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Few turn out for fire department open house

POSTED: September 11, 2007 5:03 a.m.
The Midway Volunteer Fire Department handed out tea, hot dogs and desserts while Angie’s Diner was on hand frying food.
But only a small group of people showed up to support the station during Tuesday evening’s open house. Those who were present listened to speakers representing the city, county and state.
The event was an opportunity for people to learn about the fire department and how it serves the community. It also offered a chance for the fire department to recruit volunteers.
“Currently, we have eight to 10 active volunteers that respond to medical and other emergency calls,” Midway Fire Capt. Trey Johnson said.
“It’s harder these days to find volunteers because this is a hard job and they don’t get paid for it,” he said.
Volunteers must be at least 18 years old to be eligible for the certification course, but younger volunteers are welcome.
“The volunteers cannot fight fires or go out on emergency calls until they reach 18 and go through the certification course but there are other things we have them do if they are younger,” he said.
The Midway fire station is well equipped with hoses, two fire engines, extraction tools, personal protective equipment and breathing apparatus that are provided for the volunteers.
The problem apparently is the lack of community interest and even Midway Mayor Don Emmons said he was disappointed in the lack of community turnout.
Liberty County Fire Coordinator James Ashdown discussed the future of the fire stations and the county’s first master fire plan.
“This is the first time this is being done and we have reached a time in our population’s growth that the county must consider making these stations (volunteer) paid staff,” Ashdown said.
Midway and other volunteer stations rely primarily on community charity and fundraisers and without them Johnson said they face the possibility of not being able to serve the community, especially at its current rate of growth.
“Midway has grown tremendously, there are new developments, new homes, and the Target distribution Center is only four miles from us,” Johnson said.
He noted with the mutual aid firefighters can practically cover the entire county but funding is an issue in keeping the volunteer departments going.
“The county gave us $12,000 this year but that barely covers the fuel cost so we rely heavily on the public for donations,” he said. “The city tries to support us the best they can but we do the most with community support and without community support we could not operate at all.
 

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