Open Letter

Open Letter Regarding Echols’ Fire Department

I would like to tell you about a group of firefighters Jeff Bennett, Jimmy Bennett, Teresa Corbett, Rob Davis, Steve Pearson, Alan Parker, Richard Terry, Harry Vogenitz, Chris Scott, and Nathan Crosby nine men and one women who have who have resigned themselves to bringing better and more advanced fire protection, rescue, and medical aid to the citizens of Echols County. All of these people are volunteers, this means they receive no pay for what they do. At the time there were no firefighters in Echols County who were certified to the level of Firefighter I. These now firefighters are certified as National Professional Qualification (NPQ) by the national fire academy. All but two of the original nine are NPQ certified as Firefighter II, Hazardous Materials Awareness, and Hazardous Materials Operations. This means for over a year they were away from their families every Monday, Wednesday, and every other Saturday. Mondays and Wednesdays for four hours and every other Saturday eight hours. Not to mention running fire calls, medical calls, vehicle accidents, and other emergencies. To make a long story short they received the same training as paid firefighters, the same written tests, the same skill tests. As I like to call them “unpaid professionals.”

When I asked what their goals are, their spokesman, Jimmy Bennett said, “to provide better fire protection for the county and to lower the Insurance Service Organization (ISO) for the county.” He and the others of this group are already providing better fire protection and if they can get the support of the county and other volunteers lower the ISO rating. This will mean a savings of at least 50% on insurance premiums for every home owner in the county. It will also mean lower rates for business. By support from other volunteers, I mean all firefighters should be trained to at least Firefighter I. This training can be delivered at the fire station in Statesville and at no cost to the individual if taken through the technical college, Wire Grass/Valdosta Technical College.

These people are dedicated and are making a difference in their community. If you would like to meet them go down to the fire station any Thursday night they will be there doing training.

~ Gerald Psalmond
Fire Instructor
Wire Grass/Valdosta Technical College