PETERSBURG, Va. -- Firefighters face obstacles like blistering heat and numbing cold on a daily basis while on the job. A group of retired firefighters is stepping up to help those on duty.
"Everybody together total, we probably got over 300 years experience in firefighting," Retired Sgt. Gene Beamer said.
Beamer, along with 12 other mostly retired firefighters, makes up the group Fire Support 6.
"We're all volunteers," Retired firefighter Robert Puryear said.
The group members are all too familiar with the difficulties and stress that a day on the job can present.
"All the cold nights, the hot days of not having someone there to give us rehab," Beamer said.
On the other hand, Chesterfield firefighters could count on Station 13's Ladies Auxiliary.
"On a long incident, those ladies would get pizzas and drinks and they would bring them to us and it was like a gift from heaven coming down," Puryear.
However, Fire Support 6 is determined to change that. The group has been serving Petersburg and the Tri-Cities area for the past couple of years.
"If it's a long incident, we could be there to provide nutritional items for them or drinks. We have cooling fans, misting fans, we have heaters for the winter," Puryear said.
"When we first heard about it, we thought it was too good to be true and now it's a reality," Retired Battalion Chief Tommy Barrett said.
"This is like a dream come true," Beamer said.
The donation of a 1988 Rehab Truck from Goochland County will result in a quicker response time and quicker aid for first responders in need.
"One good thing about the fire department you can always depend on your brothers and other localities to kind of look out for you and the guys from Goochland certainly did," Barrett said.
"It's going to help us do our job, to get these guys to where they need to be, to get back on the scene to do their jobs in a better way," Beamer said.
Instead of having to set up tents to give firefighters relief during long shifts, they can just open the doors of the truck for a temporary escape.
"What we have inside the truck is bench seats for about four or five guys to come in and cool off or get warm. Coffee pots that are set up, ice machines will have cold beverages inside of it, a microwave oven," Barrett said.
While the firefighters are in rehab, they are monitored closely by those attending to them.
"We watch you while you're in our rehab area to make sure you're not having any medical complications," Puryear said.
Over the years, Fire Support 6 gets most of the support to help firefighters from themselves.
"Everything that we do is pretty much comes out of our pocket or private donations," Beamer said.
While the group will spend the next few months prepping their new-to-them truck so it's ready to respond, they say they're positive that their efforts are helping.
"It really makes you feel good when the firefighters come into rehab. And the first thing to do, they come up they shake your hand. They say thank you and they hug us. They hug us and it makes you feel good," Puryear said.
Currently, Fire Support Six uses a van and trailer to haul their supplies and equipment. They also support the police and EMS who may be on scene for a long period of time. The group's in the process of creating a 501c3 nonprofit to collect donations to help support their calls.