ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Catching one of the last flights out of a war zone, Arlington firefighter Billy Hirth, 52, is home after volunteering along the Gaza Strip.
“It’s pretty surreal. When we landed we’re given helmets and flak jackets,” said Hirth, who uses his personal time to volunteer in Israel assisting in firefighting. “As you’re going on a call, rockets are being fired on you,” he said about his experience in the middle of a raging firefight impacting Palestinians and Israelis.
Hirth is a participant with the Emergency Volunteers Project. The non-profit trains American firefighters to assist and support Israeli emergency service organizations during times of emergency.
The firefighter volunteers are non-partisan, and come from various religious backgrounds, according to Hirth. He insists that the Palestinian people aren’t targets of an Israeli offensive and that members of the terrorist group Hamas are the focus of the fight.
“The problem is the terrorism. You can’t point your fingers at Gaza or the Arabs. You can’t point your fingers at the Israeli’s and say you’re wrong. It’s terror. The terror has got to end,” said Hirth.
This is the fourth year the North Texan has volunteered in Israel.
“I say yes because it’s the same thing there that I do here. Firefighters help people in times of need. In Israel they’re short handed, they don’t have as many, so it’s a brotherhood,” said Hirth.
The Arlington Fire Department isn’t a partner in the EVP program.
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