BEEVILLE, Texas — Local heroes from The City of Beeville are now documentary films stars. The Beeville Volunteer Fire Department is in the spotlight, after being chosen to be featured for their selfless acts of service for the community.
The documentary is titled Odd Hours, No Pay, Cool Hat; produced by Vignette Creative and Hold Fast Features. It took almost a couple of years for filming to be complete and the finished product is now being viewed by people across the country.
The documentary highlights America's Volunteer Fire Service and shows how their role plays a critical part in communities across the country. Eight volunteer fire departments are featured in the film. The Beeville Volunteer Fire Department is the only Texas agency that was chosen as part of the production.
"And it wasn’t because of my good looks or nothing.” joked Jaime Hernandez Senior, the Captain of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department.
Hernandez and his family's story was the focus of a portion of the film. He said he was honored to be a part of the cast, and was proud to have the ability to shine light on the issue of shortages with volunteer firefighter groups.
“70 percent of fire departments in the United States are volunteers. And we’ve been having trouble keeping membership and we are seeing 27 percent of memberships across the nation decline.” he explained.
Beeville Fire has also been struggling with the issue for quite some time. They can have about 70 members. Their volunteer levels have been hovering just under 50.
We have members graduating, moving on with their lives and their career. Some are retiring. So we do lose members annually." said the fire captain.
With the release of the new documentary, Hernandez believes it could be a tool to help raise awareness for the need of volunteers. He said it could be tough to volunteer, especially if a person is trying to balance a full-time job or family life. However, he said the work they do is rewarding.
"Until you actually do it, you don’t realize how much strength you have and heart until you actually start helping people. And seeing the look on their faces after you help them." he added.
Hernandez has been serving communites for about three decades. He also works a full-time job in an oil filed. The fire captain said balancing both is worth it, especially because he gets to share a feeling of fulfillment with his children. The Hernandez sons are also members of the Beeville Volunteer Fire Department.
"I’m honored that I started a generational thing in the fire department. And now my grandson who’s just watching us and soaking it all up, he’s just as good as we are, if not better." said Hernandez.
And even when his kids aren't at the station, he said he still surrounded by family.
“We protect each other, we care for each other, we watch out for each other, we eat together, we cry together. It’s a family thing." he said. "Once you’re in, you’re in, and it’s a great experience, and it’s very humbling.”
There are several different jobs a person can do at the fire department. To volunteer or learn click here.
There's much more to Captain Hernandez story, which you can discover in the new documentary. Beeville Volunteer Fire Department hopes to organize public screenings at a theater in the city so everyone can watch it on the big screen. Meanwhile, you can request a copy of the film or access the documentary by contactin the production company. For more information, click here.