Wanted: New recruits

By: Chrysta Carroll - Bladen Journal
Bladen Journal file photo Elizabethtown Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Norris says the Elizabethtown Fire Department responds to more than 1,000 calls per year — not all of them fires.

ELIZABETHTOWN — It’s a job most people don’t think about, until the time comes when they need the service, and, in Elizabethtown and surrounding areas last year, more than 1,000 people did.

“The Elizabethtown Fire Department takes our responsibility very seriously,” said Anothony Norris, assistant fire chief. “Our community is protected by dedicated and committed emergency service responders who do their jobs when called upon, even at 3 a.m. Saving lives and protecting property is not an easy task, responding to more than 1,000 calls a year.”

At Elizabethtown’s budget planning retreat earlier this year, Fire Chief Nick West informed the board the Department responded to 1,053 calls, an increase of approximately 50 calls from the previous years. More than 130 of the calls involved overlapping services, times when the Department was responding to multiple calls at once.

“We pride ourselves on being able to take a second call,” West told the Board.

The ability to do so has created a need, however, for more people.

“We’re having a lot more call volume day and night, and our EMS call base is steadily rising,” Norris remarked. “It would be a big help to have more volunteers around.”

Last year, the Department completed 5,879 hours of training, something West called “pretty astounding.” Employees serviced 400 fire hydrants and completed 211 fire inspections. More than 360 community outreach events reached 2,376 adults and 3,189 children last year.

“We’ve also seen an increase in property saved, so we’re getting there quickly and saving property,” West remarked.

Despite its success, the Department is always looking to improve and needs additional personnel.

“Volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service providers are a special kind of people,” Norris commented. “We are looking for members to help answer the call of duty.”

That call is constantly changing. Today’s fire department, Norris said, responds to far more than fires and vehicle accidents. Heart attacks or other medical emergencies, hazardous material spills or concerns, sports injuries, and industrial accidents are just some of the types of calls the Department receives.

To help meet community needs, the Department has launched a new campaign to recruit volunteer members. Duties will include responding to emergency calls, assisting with fundraising, and helping with administrative duties.

Benefits for volunteers include free training, education in additional trades, provision of gear for the job, retirement benefits, community outreach, and other state and local benefits from other vendors not directly associated with the department.

Persons interested in becoming a volunteer may contact the Elizabethtown Fire Department in person at 401 W. Swanzy St. in Elizabethtown, by phone at 910-862-4586, or by email at anorris@elizabethtownnc.org.

Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing ccarroll@bladenjournal.com.

Bladen Journal file photo Elizabethtown Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Norris says the Elizabethtown Fire Department responds to more than 1,000 calls per year — not all of them fires.
https://www.bladenjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_EFD.jpgBladen Journal file photo Elizabethtown Fire Department Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Norris says the Elizabethtown Fire Department responds to more than 1,000 calls per year — not all of them fires.
Elizabethtown Fire Departmentlaunches recruitment campaign

Chrysta Carroll

Bladen Journal