Outside the West Volunteer Fire Department, a memorial displaying support from around the country is growing. Inside, there's a living memorial--a group firefighters ready to protect the city, but they're not from West.
"Every single fire department has to be covered,” David Thomas with the Brazos County Fire Department said. “I feel that today this is the place where I needed to be."
It's a scene repeated throughout towns around West, as many emergency responders from surrounding areas flocked to West to help out the small community that was devastated by a fertilizer plant explosion last week.
"This is the place to be representing my profession and protecting the citizens of Hill County and Abbott,” Jeff Gore with the Brazos County Fire Department said.
Gore and Thomas normally fight fires in Brazos County. Though Thursday was their day off, the pair was in West helping to make sure the town’s emergency needs were covered.
"This is a 100 percent volunteer for my department to come and fill in,” Thomas said.
The Brazos County firefighters and two first responders from Ferris provided emergency coverage so the Abbott Volunteer firefighters could attend memorials.
"They would have to leave some of their brothers and sisters behind here to continue that protection,” Gore said.
And the replacement volunteers weren't content to sit and wait for calls.
"This morning we have checked their trucks, we've washed their trucks, we've cleaned their station,” Thomas said. “We made it very apparent that they don't have to respond to any calls, we have every single call covered for them."
Their help will continue as long as the affected departments need it, giving them a chance to honor those they've lost and prepare to rebuild.
"The fabric of the community is torn,” Gore said. “They can start that sewing process of healing and mending that fabric and bringing it back together.”