Answering call to action

Published 10:35 pm Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Columbiana area is blessed by a dedicated group who serve our communities as volunteer firemen, 911 workers, EMT’s, and paramedics. More than 125 people meet once a week to train. They also have to take care of their equipment and trucks, prepare to be ready at a moment’s notice to help put out a house fire, save a child locked in a car, contain a brush fire, assist with car wrecks or anything else that is needed.

These volunteer fire departments are: Columbiana led by Chief Johnny Howard; Kingdom led by Chief Tony Miller; Summerhill led by Chief Jeff Jones; Four Mile led by Chief Justin Glass; Wilsonville led by Chief Avery Edwards; and Shelby led by Chief Cain Reed. The entire area is served for medical calls by the Southeast Shelby Rescue Squad led by Chief Mark Bray.

The chiefs are responsible for keeping their men safe, morale up, care of equipment and trucks, raising funds, as well as filing an INFRS report to the government after every run to provide needed data of the system nationwide. They provide training such the use as extrication equipment, search and rescue, and fighting fires.

Money is always needed. Funding comes in a variety of ways: personal or business donations; Shelby County Commission; Alabama Forestry Commission if that department will answer calls on brush fires; the municipality as with Columbiana and Wilsonville, and even a fishing tournament as Kingdom has done for thirteen years. Kingdom applied for a Homeland Security grant in 2005 and received funds for a state of the art fire engine.

Chief Miller of Kingdom has been its chief for ten years and a volunteer fireman for eighteen. Miller grew up in Talladega and was an Eagle Scout. He remembers at his Board of Review that his Eagle was a fulfillment of a commitment of service , and his mentor said he is responsible for continuing that commitment as an adult.

“I do this to give back to my community as I vowed when I was an Eagle, and we are a brotherhood,” Miller said.

These departments work in conjunction with each other in a process of automatic mutual aid and mutual aid. For instance, if a call comes to 911 that there is a house fire in the Kingdom area, the call goes out to Kingdom and Wilsonville, which have an automatic mutual aid agreement. If Chief Miller feels he needs another water tanker, he will call in for the mutual aid for Shelby to come assist.

“All the departments work well together, we sometimes train together, we have a bond with each other.” Miller said.

A huge thank you and sincere appreciation to all these community volunteers who help keep us safe with no pay, long hours, and dangerous work.