Didn't Light it but Gotta Fight it


The first time somebody told me the firefighters in Argentina are volunteer workers, I said, “Whaaat?!” I couldn’t believe people actually signed up to risk their lives under fiery circumstances absolutely for free. “Altruism” is a word that stands for actions done out of unselfish concern for other people’s wellbeing. Altruism is cool because it is rooted in empathy and not in saviorism. In this case, volunteer firefighters do their jobs in the community because they are motivated by something more than money.

What community need did I learn about?:

I spoke with Eric, a local firefighter in my neighborhood, San Telmo, and he shared with me that he is a third generation volunteer firefighter. This means that members of his family, parents and grandparents, have been dedicated to fighting fires as part of their familial identity for many years. Since this is unpaid work, everyone has their "day jobs" that provide them income. For example, Eric is employed in the ecological reserve located nearby, whose main purpose is to prevent wildfires. The volunteers at the firestation split up their service in twelve hour shifts every five days, from 8 pm to 8 am. Eric admitted that the station feels like a second home for many of the firefighters.