Our two-year-old grandson loves fire engines. He had a dream come true last week. His mama celebrated the last day of homeschool with a field trip to the fire department. I was thrilled when I got an invitation to come along.
When I told Ray that I planned to go, he had a good question. Which fire department? Ten volunteer fire departments serve our rural county population of 11,500. They are Dodson’s Branch, Fairview, Flynn’s Lick, Gainesboro, Granville, Jackson County Central, Jennings Creek, Nameless, Southside, and West End. We get to see fire engines from most of them when we go to local parades.
Our field trip was to the Gainesboro Fire Department. Our guide was Assistant Chief Isaac Davis.
Also in attendance were Fire Chief Paul Stafford, who is recovering from heart bypass surgery, and his daughter, who is also a volunteer firefighter. She graciously donned the firefighting suit, not once but twice. The second time she showed us how she can put on everything, including the breathing mask and tank, in under two minutes! Here she is.
I recently wrote about the wonderful volunteers in our county who helped with the cave rescue in the Flynn’s Creek community. I was impressed on Friday that three firefighting volunteers would give their time to teach us about what they do.
We got to look inside almost all the nooks and crannies of the main fire engine and to learn how they use the many pieces of equipment. The Gainesboro fire engine is shiny and well-stocked, as we saw when Mr. Davis opened one compartment after another.
As I watched and listened, I wondered if fire engines ever catch fire. Just then, Mr. Davis opened the passenger door of the cab. I noticed that the seat on that side looked quite worn. The vinyl on the side of the seat was gone and the interior foam was showing. Mr. Davis said that the seat got like that one time when heat came too close to the fire engine.
Two of the most interesting things I heard were:
- In rural situations, our firefighters sometimes pull water out of swimming pools to fight fires.
- Parked cars can sometimes hinder firefighters from getting where they need to go.
I have driven down many streets that are crowded with parked vehicles. It never occurred to me that those vehicles could prevent an emergency vehicle from helping someone.
It was fun to see an old fire hydrant no longer in use, and . . .
. . . Gainesboro’s first fire engine, which went into service in 1958. Before that, the local telephone company loaned its pickup truck to firefighters and the town had a hose wagon that a man or a horse could pull!
In the 1960s, that fire engine performed an unusual service. The pump failed that pulled water out of the Cumberland River for the town of Gainesboro. For two weeks, the town fire engine pumped the water and supplied Gainesboro with water. The town had to be without water each time workers had to take the fire engine to get gasoline!
Volunteers make up 69% of all firefighters in the United States. I thank God for their selfless service to their fellowman.
This is My commandment,
that you love one another, just as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this,
that one lay down his life for his friends.