VFD staff not just firefighters

Published 4:10 am Monday, July 25, 2011

Mutual aid is a common phrase among firefighters — it’s an understanding and a way of life, especially among volunteer organizations.

Eddie Kirby with McCullough Volunteer Fire Department said he has made the call for help and has also answered the call for help.

“We have mutual aid with everybody in the county,” Kirby said. “If we need help, they are ready to jump in. We do the same thing if we’re needed.”

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Although every department can assist anywhere in the county, departments in close proximity to one another answer those calls first.

“We can go just about anywhere,” Kirby said. “Mainly, we work more with Little Rock, Huxford and Poarch with helping them and them helping us.”

Kirby said manpower continues to be an issue, especially in cases where more than one call at a time comes in for aid.

“It doesn’t happen often but we did have two calls at one time on the first day of this month,” Kirby said. “We had a structure fire and 15 minutes later we got a call for a woods fire. We were busy.”

Those times when two calls need to be handled at one time is rare, but Kirby said it could happen at any time, especially during a stormy season.

In addition to answer calls to extinguish fires in their community, Kirby said the group also responds to a variety of other calls as assistance for other emergency response units.

“We do more than just answer fire calls,” Kirby said. “We answer medical calls and even answer calls to remove debris from the roads. We move a lot of trees out the road, especially when storms come through.”

Kirby said the department averages about nine calls per month and only two to four of those calls are for fire related emergencies.

“We have slow times, but we average about nine or so calls a month,” Kirby said. “We have a couple of structure fires and maybe a couple of woods fires. Most of what we do is assist on medical calls and get trees out of the road.”

Kirby said the department is holding their own financially right now, but help is always appreciated.

“We were able to pay our insurance for the next six months and we’ve got our truck payment made,” Kirby said. “We’re doing pretty fare right now. Contributions are always appreciated.”

There are 300 volunteer firefighters in Escambia County covering 24 departments. Those volunteers give their time, energy and passion to the act of fighting fires, providing protection of homes and lives, offering assistance to medical personnel and other emergency needs.

Training and equipment is provided to any person who signs up to be a volunteer firefighter. Some training certifies firefighters for special duties.

To volunteer with any department in the county, contact the chief of the department in which you wish to serve or contact the nearest municipal fire department.