To the rescue: Volunteer firefighters benefit from company’s generosity
Published 3:00 am Friday, January 15, 2016
The Pike County Firefighters didn’t win the billion-dollar lottery Wednesday but in some ways they came close.
After being told by the “strapped” Pike County Commission Monday night that there were no funds to honor the Pike County Firefighters Association’s $3,500 request for the purchase of communication equipment, a donation of that amount was like hitting the jackpot.
“I was surprised and excited when [Pike County Administrator] Harry Sanders called me Thursday to say that Lockheed Martin was donating the funds we need to purchase the new repeaters for the water tanks at Ansley and Sandfield,” said John Register, Pike County Fire and Rescue. “We weren’t expecting anything like that. And I don’t know how to thank Lockheed Martin except to that we really appreciate it. This donation will benefit the northern part of the county. It’s going to help us provide better fire protection for a lot of people.”
Register said Lockheed Martin has helped the Pike County Firefighters Association with other endeavors.
“We appreciate how they’ve helped us before and how they are continuing to help us,” he said. “It’s remarkable that Lockheed Martin stepped up and helped us.”
Register said the volunteer firefighters understand the position of the county commission.
“We kind of knew before the meeting that we weren’t likely to get the funds because the county has all the road and bridge repairs to make from the flooding,” he said.
Sanders said the county is facing $1.4 million in unbudgeted road and bridge repairs and was; therefore, unable to fund the volunteer firefighters’ request.
“The emergency communication equipment for which the funding was requested is like a radio antenna that is placed on top of the water towers,” Sanders said. “In rather isolated areas like Ansley and Sandfield, it is often difficult to get reception and, at time, not possible to get reception at all. With the new repeaters the reception should be greatly improved.”
Sander said the volunteer firefighter association will still be faced with the financial responsibility for the maintenance of its emergency equipment.
Register said the volunteer firefighters live off the tobacco tax and those monies continue to decline.
The Pike County Firefighters Association has eight departments, with between 15 and 20 active members in each.
There are volunteer fire departments in Banks, Brundidge, Hamilton Crossroads, Springhill, Henderson, Goshen, Saco, Pike Fire and Rescue and Meeksville.
“We all work off the same frequency,” Register said. “We are all volunteers so we don’t get paid. We do a lot with a little and try to help as much as we can.”