SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — When Steve Schmidt retired and moved to Tennessee, he knew he needed to keep busy. So, in addition to a part-time job at Kroger, he decided to pursue his dream of becoming a firefighter.
"It's something I've always wanted to do," he said. "I love helping people in the community."
Schmidt works at the Walden Creek Volunteer Fire Department in Sevier County. When his team got the call for help with the Laurel Lick brush fire, he knew he had to help.
"Our job is to serve the community the as best we can," Schmidt said. "We do that everyday."
That fire is now 100% contained and crews are shifting their efforts to monitoring it until it fizzles out. Due to the rugged terrain, he said the job of successfully containing it was a treacherous one. Trees and boulders came down, but teamwork across agencies helped see the task succeed.
The Catons Chapel Richardson Cove Volunteer Fire Department also helped out.
"My job was to essentially get everybody up there as safe and quickly as possible so we could get to work and not waste a whole lot of daylight," Lieutenant Jasper Rolen said. "It was very steep territory, difficult to stand in let alone work."
Rolen has been with the VFD since 2012. He said he spends most of his days off helping however he can.
"Just having the opportunity to give back to my community, help your neighbors in need, it's a pretty humbling opportunity," Rolen said. "We have the training and education to be able to make a difference."
Going from their day job to their side job can be tiring, but the volunteers said it is worth it.
"A lot of us leave our jobs to come and do that when we get a call," Schmidt said. "It's very noble of everybody to be able to have that opportunity to go and help the public."