Volunteers protect and save lives daily

by David Morgan, Lawrence County Executive

Although you’re reading this a few days after Volunteer Firefighters Week (March 3-9), I still want to recognize the men and women who give their time to provide fire protection – and much more – across of our county.

Lawrence County has 12 volunteer fire departments that operate under the umbrella of Lawrence County Fire & Rescue. Add the word “Tennessee” to find the LCFR Facebook page and learn about the daily workload these volunteers face.

For instance: On Tuesday, March 5, calls began with a fire at a 40,000 square foot chicken barn in southeast Lawrence County, a car wreck in the Henryville area, then a residential fire in Loretto and simultaneous report of an unresponsive person in another part of the city. Later, departments responded to a call about a person slumped over in a car in West Point, a wreck in New Prospect, and another medical call in the Crossroads area.

Volunteer Fire Departments work hand-in-hand with the Lawrenceburg Fire Department, which is fully staffed with salaried members; and Loretto and St. Joseph fire departments, whose members are paid per call.

Again, consider March 5: Lawrenceburg’s Fire Department was on standby to answer other calls when the VFDs were maxed out working the chicken barn fire and Henryville wreck. Cooperation frequently crosses county and state lines: Lexington, Alabama fire units also responded to the barn fire. Center Point VFD responded to the medical call in Loretto while its fire department battled the residential blaze. VFDs and Loretto Fire Department responded to the medical call in West Point.

Volunteer firemen at a medical call? Absolutely. Several volunteers are also career First Responders, so their ranks include Advanced EMTs and Paramedics. Many others spent 60 hours in the classroom, plus clinicals, for the Emergency Medical Responder designation, just so they can provide life-saving measures in their volunteer capacity.

VFD membership requires a minimum of 80 hours Firefighter Training, which includes a 16-hour Introduction to Fire Service and 64-hour Basic Firefighting Class. Six hours of CPR/AED training is required annually. Initial Emergency Vehicle Operation training is eight hours, plus a two-hour refresher each year. Vehicle rescue/extrication training is 40 hours. Specialized courses also prepare members for grain bin rescues, search & rescue, hazardous materials, swift water rescue, and many other situations.

Besides the training and actual emergency response work, volunteers spend an enormous amount of time fundraising because training, uniforms, equipment, and vehicles are extremely expensive. Please respond generously to their requests.

To make you more familiar with our VFDs, here’s a brief rundown of the 12:

Ethridge Fire Department, 25 members. Chief Nathan Keeton, Deputy Chief Todd Stewart, Asst. John Kelton, Asst. Brian Green;  

Henryville Fire Department, 19 members. Chief David Staggs, Asst. Chief Kenny Shrader, Asst. Chief Michael Steinhebel;

Center Point Fire, 7 members. Chief Scott Moore, Asst. Derrick Thomas;

New Prospect Fire, 18 members and two stations. Chief Wade Marston, Asst. Billy Prentice; 

West End Fire, 16 members. Chief Brad Staggs, Asst. Nic Violet;  

Summertown Fire, 25 members. Chief Gary Stewart, Asst. Michael Banks, Asst. Tyler McCrory; 

Leoma Fire, 14 members. Chief Terry Wayland, Asst. Jimmy Rodgers;

West Point Fire, 11 members. Chief Ryan Bain, Asst. Casey Dickson;

Iron City Fire, 10 members. Chief Eddie Brewer, Asst. Daniel Johnston; 

Gandy Fire, 25 Members. Chief Jonathon Burnette, Asst. Thomas Jaco; 

Southeast Fire, 19 members and two stations. Chief Richard Freeman, Asst. Jordan Provins; 

Crossroads Fire, 15 members. Chief Aaron Shannon, Asst. C.F. Mote.

Remember most volunteer firemen also have full-time jobs, so all desperately need more people to fill in daytime shifts. Please support our VFDs any way you can.

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