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KILLEN, Ala. (WHNT) – A Florence firefighter is asking for people to donate to their local volunteer fire departments after losing his home to a fire on Saturday, February 11.

Since the fire, community members have donated over $3,600 to Darby and his family.

Darby told News 19 that he is grateful for the support, but he would also like people to consider donating to their local volunteer fire department instead.

“If you have the means to donate to those guys and ladies, I would really like to see that that was done as much as possible,” Darby said. “They’re underappreciated, and I can’t stress enough how much they depend on on the community.”

Darby said that many volunteer fire departments are dependent on grants and donations to operate. They are integral to keeping rural communities safe, and require funding to operate efficiently.

“These guys and ladies, they’re not paid,” Darby said. “They show up on your worst hour. They all have livelihoods. They all have families. They come in and put in the work, take time away from their families. They take a chance on getting injured.”

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Darby told News 19 that he used to be a volunteer firefighter and that the work they do is extremely difficult. He encouraged people to reach out to their local firefighters to let them know that they are appreciated.