All of the fire departments in St. Martin Parish are volunteer. But, each and every day these men and women suit up and get to work. Protecting the community they live in not expecting anything in return.
Every day Breaux Bridge Volunteer Fire Department Chief Johnny LeBlanc Johnny Leblanc gets up and heads to work. But unlike others, he doesn’t get paid for what he does.
LeBlanc says that while he’s been on the job for 30 or more years, he and his volunteer firefighters don’t receive a paycheck.
So, why do it? LeBlanc says it’s simple.
“You forget about not making money when you hear the thank you’s and how appreciative they are for you helping their family.”
Part of the Breaux Bridge Volunteer Fire Department for a few decades, Johnny has never thought twice before suiting up and heading out.
“Most people, including myself, decide to be volunteers because they like to help people,” says LeBlanc. “They like helping their fellow man and person in the community.”
And while his rewards come in the form of gratefulness and appreciation, it does take money to keep this community going.
“In 1977 buying a brand new truck was $66,000 dollars,” says LeBlanc. “Last year, the new truck that we bought for inside the parish, was over $400,000.”
Because there aren’t heavy taxes on the community, those volunteers end up spending money out of their own pocket.
LeBlanc says that many volunteers for the fire service end up spending more money out of their own pocket then they would make if they would get paid.
“It cost us a little but but it’s worth it,” he says.
No matter the task, big or small, these men and women will continue pushing forward making sure that every person living in st. martin parish stays safe in the face of tragedy.
The Breaux Bridge Fire Department will soon be starting their annual fundraiser. All of the money raised goes to getting new equipment or repairing older equipment to keep them going.