Ad Spot

Editorial: Fire service changing in rural areas 

You work third shift, and you’ve put in a long, hard night at work.

You get home, ready to relax, but the kids are just getting out of bed and hungry. They’re wide open and energetic. So you start breakfast, then sit down to talk to those kids about their upcoming day. You get lost in their world.

The next thing you know, you smell smoke coming from the kitchen. You rush inside, only to find flames ready to reach the walls.

What do you do?

Hopefully, you’ve got a fire extinguisher handy.

But most likely, your first action — and rightfully so — will be to call 911.

We’ve been trained to call 911 during an emergency. We dial the number and expect someone to be there to solve the problem immediately. That’s not going to happen all of the time with a volunteer department. They have to stop what they’re doing, rush to the department, change into special gear, crank the truck and head to your house. These volunteers get there as quickly as they can, and for that, we’re thankful.

But it’s getting harder and harder for fire departments to maintain a long enough list of volunteers to answer calls all day long. And with medical calls now being answered by fire department first responders as well, that list gets even smaller.

Davie County — like every other — is not immune to this problem. They’ve provided some paid firefighters to work at these understaffed departments during the day when fewer volunteers are available. County commissioners recognize the fact that fire service is changing, and are providing extra funding over the fire tax for local departments. How it is distributed is a bit contentious — evenly among all departments, or more for those with the most calls and property values in the respective district? That’s a tough call. But at least our county is headed in the right direction.

Luckily, we’ve not heard of any catastrophe caused by a lack of response to a call, but if we don’t do more — as commissioners are trying to do — things could become really bad.

Is this a plug to become a local fire department volunteer? Sure, there are never enough.

Is this a warning for elected officials to start providing more money for paid firefighters? Sure, there are never enough.

Is this a heads-up for all of us to realize the fact that fire protection isn’t free, that someone has to buy the trucks, pay for the gas, pay for the protective equipment for our firefighters, and on and on. And more and more, someone has to pay the firefighters, too. Sure, but don’t we pay a fire tax for that? Yes, we do. But it’s not enough. In fact, it’s barely enough to keep most departments afloat. That’s why you see so many barbecues and other events. They need more funds. Look at the price of a new — or used, for that matter — fire truck. Then you’ll understand.

It’s not surprising that volunteer firefighters are becoming harder to find. For one thing, it’s difficult. You have to be trained. You have to follow government rules and regulations. You have to be willing to leave the ones you love behind to go to try to help someone else. You have to be willing to risk your life for others. Whoa, that last one knocks many of us out with a simple punch.

Look around at our civic organizations. They’re having some of the same recruitment problems. The average age is too old to be sustainable for a long time. In other words, they’re slowly dying.

It’s up to us to make sure that doesn’t happen to our fire departments.

Mike Barnhardt is editor of the Davie County Enterprise Record.

Local News

Clemmons residents unified in opposition to multi-use event center proposed at Tanglewood Park

Local News

Blotter for the week of Aug. 5

Local News

McHenry to visit Forsyth County

Local News

Masks required at all county facilities beginning Aug. 2

Local News

COVID-19 vaccination to be offered at Bowman Gray Stadium and other community venues  

Local News

Community meeting on the proposed multi-use event center at Tanglewood Park

Local News

Novant Health postpones Wilmington, Winston-Salem festivals as COVID-19 cases rise, vaccination rates remain stagnant

Local News

Individuals should wear masks indoors due to spread of COVID-19 

Local News

WS/FCS approves mask requirement for first quarter of 2021-2022 school year

Local News

Single tickets for Winston-Salem Symphony 2021–22 season on sale Aug. 2

Local News

Salem Band to perform outdoor concert on Aug. 10

News

Winston-Salem Open announces 2021 playing field

Local News

‘Perfect Fit’: Bobby Ogburn’s family gets historic marker for Peter and Comfort Clemmons House along with a new owner

Local News

Couriering Clemmons — This week in 1984

Local News

Local students honored — July 29

Local News

Lewisville Branch Library events for August

News Main

Four students finish high school sports careers in All-Star games

Local News

Harmony Grove vacation Bible school

Local News

New Direction for Women Who Care About Community

Local News

Your Neighbor: Meet Dr. Jamie Lunsford

Local News

Clemmons seeks answers on event center at Tanglewood

Local News

Triad Minority & Women’s Business Expo: One event, three locations

Local News

Forsyth County to hold community meetings on Tanglewood Event Center project 

Local News

Blotter for the week of July 29