Protecting Lives And Property
The Lincoln County Fire Department needsYOU!
With less than 200 volunteer firefighters to cover 586 squaremiles, County Fire Coordinator Clifford Galey figures he can useall the help he can get. Besides, Galey’s been a volunteerfirefighter with Lincoln County for more than 25 years and can’tthink of anything better he would like to do.
Galey, 57, said most volunteers get involved because of a desire tohelp the community, and after time it becomesaddictive.
“It’s in your blood … I’ve been doing it 25 years and I’m notready to quit … You may get too old to fight fires, but you neverget too old to go to the firehouse,” said Galey.
Volunteer firefighters come from all walks of life. Registerednurses, mechanics, and gardeners are just a few examples of thedifferent full-time professions the volunteers hold. Despite theirmany differences, they tend to develop close relationships witheach other.
“It’s a family,” said Galey. “Not just each department, butcountywide. We’re always together.”
Each of the departments in the county fire association meetstwo-to-three times a month.
Every department has its own personality, which comes from thecommunity it serves. Each firehouse conducts its weekly meetings atdifferent times, votes on the color of its own fire trucks, and hasa building with its own unique look.
Last May, the Lincoln County Volunteer Firefighters Associationheld its first Hog Wild Barbecue to raise money for all eightdepartments. Other fundraiser tactics include sending out astatement to every home in the district asking for donations tosupplement the fire millage tax and fire insurance rebate fundsfrom the state.
For many years, there was virtually no fire protection in distant,rural areas of the county. There was no money to provideprofessional departments that would cover the entire county.
But over time, volunteer departments sprang up in variouscommunities for self-protection. The eight different volunteer firestations were established between 1973, when Bogue Chittoorganized, and 1988, when Hog Chain came into existence.
Galey doesn’t just talk about the need for volunteers. He livesit.
In fact, over the years, volunteering at the fire department hasbecome a tradition for the Galey family. His wife is the secretaryand treasurer, and both of his sons are firefighters.
Despite the dangers, there has never been a firefighter fatalityduring Galey’s tenure. Statistically, vehicle accidents are much more likely to killsomeone than a home or business fire.
And that’s despite the fact that every month, the county logs anaverage of 100 to 200 calls. The minimum time spent per call, foreven a false alarm, is two hours.
In addition, every month each department has business meetings,along with training and truck maintenance.
Manpower is precious, especially in volunteer departments. Thereare 175 to 200 firefighters to cover all of Lincoln County.
Galey said the county fire department is always in need of morevolunteers, especially during the hours of 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., whenmost folks are at full-time jobs.
Volunteer firefighter training is similar to the training the paidBrookhaven firefighters receive. However, instead of receiving allof the training at the firefighter academy over several weeks,volunteers receive information in a classroom setting and go to theacademy on weekends to learn practical skills.
Galey said anyoneinterested in volunteering can stop by any of the eight countyfirehouses to register.