LUBBOCK, Texas — Haley Loveless describes herself as the “little sister” of the West Carlisle Volunteer Fire Department, but her impact on the Lubbock County community is huge.

A public servant by blood and by heart, she fights fires in her free time. To pay the bills, she works as a 911 dispatcher for the City of Lubbock, making sure other firefighters respond effectively. When she has time in between, she becomes a triple first-responder, serving as an Emergency Medical Technician for the City of Shallowater.

That dedication shined through when West Carlisle VFD scrambled to contain April’s monstrous Research Fire. As high winds spread burning embers across dry fields, the grass fire jumped streets and railroad tracks faster than they could respond. Her department’s resources spread thin across 61 acres, Loveless took it upon herself to mount a solo attack on the rapidly-spreading fire.

“I was by myself for several hours on this truck,” she said, standing against the department’s Brush Truck 1. “I would drive, put it in park, pull hose, fight fire, reel it back in, drive a little more, pull hose, fight more fire – it was a lot of work.”

Loveless’ exhausting pattern of driving to the front line of the fire, then exiting her engine to push it back, saved one home from burning as the fire stopped just feet from its front door. That effort earned the accolades of Fire Chief Tim Smith at this week’s County Commissioner’s Court meeting.

“At the time of the fire I thought that I had failed because the fire had gotten out of control and I had been put in charge of keeping track of the fire,” she said. “But knowing people saw me by myself working and keeping up with everyone else, that recognition is very honoring.”

Yet, Loveless is used to standing out from the pack.

“I’m the only female in this service. It can be a little lonely, because there’s certain things the guys want to have fun and joke around with and it’s not always appropriate for my ears,” she joked. “But at the same time, the guys take care of me. I’m definitely the little sister.”

That care is crucial in a business that often requires long hours, dangerous positions, and heavy fire suits in scalding temperatures – all for no pay. Loveless said the pay comes through comradery and her passion for service – maybe the only thing she can’t extinguish.

“I honestly love serving and this is how I serve my community. Being the one that people call and can be the one with the answer, that’s the reward.”