Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

October 29, 2013

Volunteer duty: Fire departments in need of members

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — When a 911 center in southern West Virginia or Southwest Virginia receives a call about a fire, volunteer firefighters are usually the people who rush to the scene. Cities and towns throughout the region have their own fire departments staffed by dedicated, professional personnel, but rural areas depend on volunteers who give up their time and risk their lives in order to help their neighbors.

One local organization, the Oakvale Volunteer Fire Department, recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. It was a celebration of the department’s longevity and progress, but was also an opportunity to appeal for new members.

Assistant Chief Davina Clyburn recalled one couple that lost their home a few weeks ago. The Oakvale volunteers were able to respond with three members driving three vehicles, but the structure was in flames when they arrived. Firefighters from the Green Valley-Glenwood Volunteer Fire Department and the Glen Lyn, Va., Volunteer Fire Department responded, too. Despite their combined efforts, the home was a total loss.

Volunteer fire departments provide a vital service by responding to 911 calls about fires, crashes and other emergencies in their areas. They are often working when inclement weather brings floods and blizzards across the region. When everyone else is staying home and keeping out of the weather, volunteer firefighters brave terrible conditions so they can do their duty and help people in need.

The only way volunteer fire departments can keep serving the public is to sign up more volunteers. Men and women looking for a way to aid their fellow residents can do sterling service by joining a volunteer fire department. These organizations are always looking for new members to keep their fire stations fully staffed and ready to respond when alarms are sounded. It is an idea worth considering.