Volunteer firefighters busy over the holidays - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Volunteer firefighters busy over the holidays

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TOWN OF SHELBY, Wisconsin (WXOW)-- A busy holiday week for area fire departments, some of which are operated by volunteers.

"I just enjoy the job, enjoy the work, enjoy helping people," said Tony Holinka, assistant fire chief for the Town of Shelby. "I always like being the person called when someone needs help."

That's why Tony Holinka says he volunteers, along with the 34 other firefighters and first responders that make up the town's department. And though they work for free, the volunteer firefighters are always on call, responding to fires like the Thursday evening fire on Hanifl Road.

"We've missed a lot of Thanksgiving dinners and Christmas dinners and overnights," said Holinka. "I didn't get to bed until 2 am and I was at work at 7 am this morning so a lot of sitting at work yawning and a lot of coffee too."

And Shelby firefighters aren't the only volunteer department who spent part of the holiday week working. More than 25 volunteer firefighters from Caledonia battled a trailer fire on Christmas Day.

Holinka says working holidays and late nights volunteering just come with the territory.

"Thank God my wife is very understanding some nights when in the middle of the night I leave and come back a couple of hours later. So yes, you've got to have very understanding family members," Holinka said.

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