Volunteer firefighters will camp along high traffic roadways throughout Douglas County tonight as part of the annual "Be Somebody" campaign.

The event aims to increase public awareness that emergency response in rural areas is provided by volunteers and that most small town fire and emergency medical services (EMS) departments are seeking new members.

"Be Somebody" kicks off from 4-6 p.m. in Brule with a gathering of firefighters from 35 different departments encompassing Douglas, Bayfield and Sawyer counties.

The firefighters will then set up with engines and personnel in their own towns to encourage neighbors to join and emphasize their 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week commitment.

Recruitment and retention is the number one challenge for volunteer emergency service organizations, according to volunteer fire chiefs.

Firefighters, rescue personnel and EMS responders are sought.

Departments also need volunteer assistance for roles such as fire hall and vehicle maintenance, secretary, treasurer, fire inspections and food preparation during emergencies.

A "Be Somebody" phone line has been established. Anyone interested in becoming an emergency service volunteer can call 888-926-1676 and leave a message detailing what service they are interested in. It will be forwarded to the correct department.

Residents can also contact a volunteer firefighter from their town or village fire department directly.