Every time I drive by the Tri-Community Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department, I realize how fortunate we are to have such an asset right here at the entrance to our community. It is a statement of trust and security that everyone coming to our neighborhood can clearly see.
And I do trust, that I may live my life and when I have an emergency, someone from Tri-Community Fire and Rescue is coming. That is a very high order to ask of anyone. But, who, is this “someone?” He or she is a First Responder. And they’re a neighbor. They may live around the corner from you, or they may live in the small communities of Spring Hope or Saints Delight, or anywhere between. But wherever they may live, they are still our neighbors. That is what Tri-Community is.
First Responders have been trained to come to you, usually within minutes, assess the situation, and respond. That is a very high order to ask. Members spend a minimum of 36 hours a year training. Most receive many more hours than that as the desire to learn meets opportunity. This is how they come to feel like a family and work together so cohesively.
Department Chief, Jimmy Hart, spoke about what it takes to manage a volunteer fire department. First and foremost are the people. They come from all walks of life, but they come with an underlying desire to help. Next, is the training. To maximize that desire to help, which is something that they all feel, they must spend hours training. Bring the two together and you have created a powerful force that you and I can trust. Add in the equipment, such as trucks, hose, and turnout gear that they wear, all while maintaining and tracking a budget, and you can see that Jimmy’s job is no small undertaking.
I also spoke with two first responders that happen to live in Fairfield Harbour, Kevin MacNeal, and Marshall Smith. They spend quite a bit of time at our Fairfield Harbour station making sure that when the alarm is sounded, everything is in place to respond. They spoke of the many facets of what an alarm could encompass, from firefighting to rescue operations, to traffic control.
I asked each one what they need from us, the residents that they protect.
They could use your help as a member of the department. If you feel a desire and passion to become part of the team, there is a place for you. From directing traffic to entering a burning building and everything in between is open to you. You will have an opportunity to take the training you can receive to almost unimaginable levels.
When you are on the road and you hear and see the trucks coming, turn your four-way flashers on and pull over, preferably not on a curve portion of the road, and let them go by. Remember, they are all volunteers and may be responding in a personal vehicle without sirens but with flashing lights.
If clear, proceed back toward your destination and do not follow the vehicles to the scene as they only have a vague idea of what space they may need to do their job.
If you are financially able, donate to their cause. They receive money from the county on a monthly basis, but state-mandated requirements for fire and rescue equipment are extremely rigid and expensive. As an example, turnout gear for each member cost approximately $11,000. Trucks without all the equipment such as hoses and tools start at around $300,000 and go up from there.
Each one of these people are volunteers and they are all passionate about what they give. Let’s all be aware of the little they ask of us and how easy it is to give it to them. By doing our share, we take a portion of their worries away so they can concentrate on the unknown that they are hurrying toward.
So, the next time you drive by the station, say a prayer for these wonderful people and be thankful that they are there for your security and that you can place your trust in them.
PS: When you see them in the Christmas Parade, let them know how much you care for them and thank them for what they freely give to you!