Emergency-management-services employees roamed the grounds of Midway’s Historical Dorchester Academy on Saturday, but they were not responding to an emergency. Instead, they were there to help the city of Midway promote its first Fire Red Jamboree.
Delia “Dee” Bargeron, a member of the city’s steering committee, coordinated the jamboree.
“The focus of this event is to honor the volunteer firefighters and recognize the service of past firefighters while informing the public on fire prevention and safety,” Bargeron said.
More than 12 businesses, organizations, city and county public-service agencies participated.
Each fire station, according to Bargeron, provided vital fire-safety information and opportunities for attendees to have a little fun.
“We have Liberty Propane here giving information on fire safety with propane,” she said. “We have EMS here providing information on what to do if you suffer from a burn. The Georgia Forestry Commission is here providing information on how to prevent forest fires. We have the children’s smoke house, where the children can learn what to do in case of a real-life fire. And we have the Midway Fire Department.”
A cluster of Boy Scouts from Troop 581 gathered around the GFC booth, hoping for a chance to use the fire hose.
Their scout master, Steven Swinton, said learning fire prevention and participating in community events are requirements for the troop.
“Teaching the boys how to put out fires properly is very important,” he said. “I remember once, while we were out camping, the boys encountered a breeze fire. If they hadn’t learned fire safety, the boys wouldn’t have known not to use water to put the fire out.”
According to County Commissioner Marion Stevens, who also served as a volunteer firefighter, Midway’s firefighters have responded to more than 900 calls so far this year. The calls always are answered by a group of dedicated volunteers, he said.
“We are the last and yet, we are the first,” Stevens said. “We’re not paid and very seldom are we recognized.”
Midway Mayor Clemontine Washington agreed with Stevens and said that by hosting the Fire Red Jamboree, the city is taking steps to change that.
“We need to let our citizens know that we do provide services, and it’s important that they get to know the individuals who are providing those services,” Washington said. “From time to time, we also all need to be recognized for what we do, especially when it comes to helping others.”
One by one, the mayor called the names of current, past, volunteer and paid firefighters. Each received a fire-red pen and a thank you. Volunteers also received certificates.
The jamboree marked the first time volunteer firefighters were recognized in 32 years, according to Stevens.
Joe Feinhals, Midway’s volunteer assistant fire chief, echoed Stevens’ sentiment.
“We’re just as dedicated — if not more — as paid firefighters,” he said. “The pager goes off and we go. Somebody’s always there to answer the call.”