By Dottie Dewberry For the WPT
Did you know that George Washington was a volunteer firefighter in Alexandria, Va.? Did you know that in 1774, as a member of the Friendship Veterans Fire Engine Co., he bought a new fire engine and gave it to the town, which was its very first? However the United States did not have government-run fire departments until around the time of the American Civil War. Interesting, isn’t it?
Did you know that on Jan. 27, 1678, the first fire engine company went into service with its captain (foreman), Thomas Atkins? Did you know that in 1736 Benjamin Franklin established the Union fire Co. in Philadelphia, Pa.?
Did you know that in 2010, 70 percent of firefighters in the United States were volunteers? Did you know that only 5 percent of calls were actual fires, and that 65 percent were medical aid and 8 percent were false alarms?
We in the town of Maben have citizens (volunteers) who are willing to give their time and energy to help protect one of your most basic needs: shelter. At any time of the day or night, rain or shine, they are willing to come at a minute’s call and come to your aid, without recompense. Because of these volunteers, you are also able to save on your insurance premiums. Just think — they do this voluntarily.
Today, the Oktibbeha County Fire Department coordinates the operations of the seven fire districts in the county. The districts offer fire protection, rescue and emergency medical services to residents or visitors of the county.
Fire Services Coordinator Kirk Rosenhan is responsible for coordinating the submission of records to the state Insurance Commissioner’s Office by these fire departments.
Mississippi is a unique state in that to be a career firefighter you have one year from your date of hire to become certified through Mississippi Fire Personnel Minimum Standards and Certification Board. However, a volunteer is not required to have a state certification, but most of the Maben volunteers have their certification or are working on it.
Three stations are in the Maben area: Maben Station I, II and III. After some reorganization, the newly elected chief is Scott Helms and the assistant chief is Wayne Yeatman. Brad Vaughn, Cary Rushing and Billy Holland are captains. All of these guys are certified firefighters.
They have 20 volunteer members, of which several are EMTs/paramedics or RNs, and virtually all of them are certified firefighters, or they are working on their certification.
Those volunteer firefighters who have EMT/EMR certification do so at their own expense. Other certifications are sponsored by different fire stations that host classes for the area volunteers.
Brent Miles is to be commended for his training: 1000/1001 Basic Firefighter class, EMT, Haz/Mat Tech, Road Rescue, Confined Space and Dive Rescue. He is also a full-time firefighter for Grenada.
Shane Box is also a certified firefighter, with incident command system training certification.
“The Incident Command System is “a systematic tool used for the command, control and coordination of emergency response” according to the U.S. Federal Highway Administration. A more detailed definition of an ICS according to the U.S. Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance is “a set of personnel, policies, procedures, facilities and equipment, integrated into a common organizational structure designed to improve emergency response operations of all types and complexities (Internet).”
Wayne Yeatman is a certified firefighter and he also has EMR certification; plus he does volunteer work with the Webster County Search and Rescue team.
Tom Booth, certified firefighter, also has EMT/paramedic certification.
Daniel Gilliland, an Oktibbeha County volunteer, is also a full-time firefighter for the Starkville Fire Department.
The volunteers for the Maben stations are Chief Scott Helms, Assistant Chief Wayne Yeatman, Capt. Brad Vaughn, Capt. Cary Rushing, Capt. Billy Holland, Amy Helms, Vera Hollingshed, Brandon Vaughan, Joel Walls, Brent Miles, Brent Monroe, Heather Box, Maurice Ellis, Tom Booth, Curtis Helms, Gary Jeffcoats, Shane Box, Amy Booth, Jolynn Bright and Daniel Gilliland. Only three of these have not finished their certification.
These volunteers meet the first Monday of each month at the Maben station to discuss issues, certifications and fund-raiser projects. Yeatman wants to take this opportunity to thank the Maben community for its continued support and donations to the fire department so that it can serve the community more efficiently.