JONESVILLE — A thrill filtered through the crowd at Arlington Fire and Rescue on Saturday as junior firefighters used heavy equipment to open a car for the first time during an open house held to celebrate 60 years of service.
“We’re doing our 60th anniversary and letting the community come out and see all the equipment,” said Fire Chief Kevin Macemore, who has been with the department for 32 years.
“It’s a great opportunity for the public to see where their tax money is going,” he said. He added he was proud of his station and its people.
Community members were able to tour the station and view the engines and other equipment with stops to test their skills with a working fire hose and a fire simulator to help learn how to use an extinguisher properly.
“We’ve got the equipment, we more or less need the personnel to [fight fires] with,” said Macemore, who hoped the open house would inspire future volunteerism.
“We didn’t do a real big event for our 50th so we thought we’d get something out there this time and hopefully it will open some people up to wanting to coming in and volunteer,” said Macemore, who is in charge of the 32 volunteers at the department.
The department has only one paid part-time employee with the bulk of the duties being attended by volunteers.
Not all volunteers actually help fight fires.
“There’s a place for anybody here,” said Macemore. “I think people get to the misconception of, if I can’t fight fires I can’t volunteer, but there’s a lot of things they could help us out with.
“There’s a lot of paperwork that has to be done during the year so that’s a place we could use someone. Just being out on a call for three to four hours on a house fire, if you had a group of people that would come in and give refreshments to the men and women that are out there working, that’s a big benefit. There’s a lot of different areas we can fit someone in other than just firefighting.”
As important as the other volunteer positions are, volunteer firefighters are the most needed; however, it takes an exceptional person to meet the challenge.
“It is a big commitment,” said Macemore, describing 240 hours of training needed for certification without counting any kind of medical training such as first aid and CPR.
In addition to dedication, a firefighter must have other qualifications.
“[We need] good-hearted people, willing to help anyone in need,” said Macemore. “That’s my biggest thing I think, is being willing to help people in need.”
Anyone who missed Smokey the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog at the open house can still visit for a tour of the facility.
“There’s someone here, unless they’re out on a call, from 8 to 4 every day Monday through Friday and a lot of the volunteers hang around on Saturday and Sunday,” said Macemore, “so if somebody is here, they’ll be glad to take someone through and show them the equipment and show them the building and everything.”
It is the weekly meeting at 7 p.m. that the team most hopes community members will attend.
“If nothing else, come out on a Thursday night when we meet and actually see what we do,” said Macemore, who hopes young people will want to spend time with the firefighters.
“There’s not a lot to do in the area anymore like they used to be for the kids,” he said.
Macemore started his path in the fire service by hanging out at the local station when he was young.
“I grew up behind the fire station so I knew a lot of the older guys and it kind of got me interested. It was somewhere to just sort of hang out. I think the friendships, everybody being together, kind of as one, [made a positive influence].
“Everybody putting their time and effort into it and really just to stay on top of things it takes 100 percent commitment from everyone,” said Macemore, describing the virtues of being around firefighters.
For more information about the Arlington Fire Department, go to arlingtonfireandrescue.com.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.