First Posted: 1/12/2009
BANNERTOWN In what is being hailed as a win-win situation for the community, the Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department has decided to add residential firefighters.
When the station on Reeves Mill Road was constructed two years ago, it was built with living quarters for firefighters.
I have been waiting 12 years to see this happen here, said Charles Punk Smith, the vice president of the departments board of directors.
Bannertowns Fire Chief Scottie Chilton said the first goal for the department is to get firefighters to stay at the station three days a week. They will not be paid for staying at the station, but he feels it will greatly benefit the community to have the firefighters at the station and ready to go as soon as they get the call for a fire.
We will be able to respond to fires more quickly with this program. They will also be doing daily duties around the fire department and working on the tons of paperwork that has to be done, Chilton said.
The Board of Directors met Monday night to decide on whether or not to go ahead with the program. The motion passed unanimously.
Chilton said that since most of the third shift jobs in the county have been shipped off to other countries, most of the firefighters work daytime jobs now, which makes it harder for them to respond to calls.
Right now, the department has 39 volunteer fire fighters. Ten of those have signed up to reside at the department.
I think this is something that is long overdue. They had this going in Guilford County 40 years ago and it has been very successful, Smith said. I really do believe that this will lead other fire departments in the county into starting similar programs.
The department will have daytime and nighttime shifts Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.
The Bannertown Volunteer Fire Department responds to all medical calls in its district. The department also responds to wrecks, acts of nature, such as a tree that has fallen on a road, in addition to fire calls. Even though the resident firefighters will be the first on the scene with the fire trucks, additional volunteers will still be responding to the calls. The volunteers will be working in 12 hour shifts.
Our main goal is to get the fire truck to the scene quicker, Chilton said.
With the addition of resident firefighters, at least one firefighter will be at the station on the designated days. Chilton said in addition to lowering the stations fire insurance premiums, other fire departments who have the residential program have proven that the overall operating costs go down.
Its because there will be people here to turn off the lights or to turn the heat up or down, he said.
Chilton said that all volunteer fire departments are required to do hydrant checks, paperwork, cleaning and truck maintenance, among other duties.
There is a tremendous amount of work that has to be done to maintain a volunteer fire department. This will definitely take the stress off of the everyday duties. Chilton said. All in all I think this is a win for the community and a win for the station. Both sides are gaining something from this.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.