Last updated: December 05. 2013 4:33PM -
Lauren Williams Staff Writer

Courtesy photoRoseboro firemen Allen Sessoms, Keith Smith, and Austin Carter traveled to Smithfield in November to participate in the first annual Johnston County Firemen's Day. Not only did the three local firemen compete well but they also helped raise funds for two men battling cancer.
Courtesy photoRoseboro firemen Allen Sessoms, Keith Smith, and Austin Carter traveled to Smithfield in November to participate in the first annual Johnston County Firemen's Day. Not only did the three local firemen compete well but they also helped raise funds for two men battling cancer.
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Three volunteer firemen with the Roseboro Fire Department recently put their training and skills to the test in a fun competition where they brought home top honors, all while helping to raise money for a worthy cause.

Roseboro firemen Keith Smith, Allen Sessoms and Austin Carter traveled to Smithfield last month to participate in the inaugural Johnston County Firemen’s Day, which took place at the Rose Manor Shopping Center.

The event was held in honor of Ray Workman and Shane Austin of Johnston County who are both battling cancer — funds raised were to help with their medical expenses — and featured an array of activities and entertainment including a display of fire trucks, a classic car show, a corn hole tournament and live music.

However, the main attraction was the firemen’s competition which presented firemen, both professional and volunteer, with a variety of challenges that, while all in good fun and friendly competition, tested their training and skills.

Events included a tug-of-war match, a bucket brigade relay, a water barrel roll, a midnight alarm challenge, a water hose target exercise, and much more.

The trio from Roseboro performed well, competing against men who fight fires for a living, and brought home trophies for placing first in tug-of-war, third in bucket brigade, and third in midnight alarm where firemen were timed at how quickly they could get up from their cots in the fire house, get their gear on, and get in their truck to answer a call. To top it off, they also received the day’s top overall honor.

“I think the hardest was bucket brigade,” shared Smith, explaining that the firemen had to fill buckets full of water, run to a house facade, throw the water on the house, and hope that most of the water would run down the gutter and quickly fill up their team’s bucket at the bottom. “After the first five or six buckets, it gets tough.”

Sessoms felt like the water hose target exercise was the hardest challenge of the day, pointing out that he was blindfolded as he tried to accurately direct the water gushing from the fire hose through the center of the target.

“I enjoyed every bit of it but really the tug-of-war was my favorite because I was in front,” he added, noting that his position gave him a great view of his opponents being pulled across the line, making he and his team the winners of that challenge.

While some events may have seemed more difficult than others, the Roseboro firemen rose to the challenge and are proud of their efforts and excited to have brought quite a few wins back home to Sampson County.

“I think we did pretty good, especially considering that I went down with only one experienced guy; the other — Austin is the youngest; he’s the rookie — only had a few months in,” noted Smith, who has been with the Roseboro Fire Department for a little over a year now but has many more years of firefighting experience under his belt.

“I was on in Autryville and Smithfield. I’ve been in and out of it since the late 80s,” he shared, mentioning that his interest in and passion for being a fireman was passed down to him through the men in his family. “It’s just because of family. My grandfather was on the Smithfield Rescue and daddy was an aviation firefighter.”

Though Smith has the most experience of the three Roseboro firemen, Sessoms has been with Roseboro Fire Department almost nine years, pointing out that being a fireman has been a dream since childhood.

“As a boy, I just always wanted to be a fireman,” he said.

Although he had previously participated in other firemen’s competitions throughout the years in places like White Lake, Garland and Southport, Sessoms admitted that he was a little surprised he, Smith and Carter performed so well in Smithfield.

“We didn’t have much time to practice but we won or placed in most every one of the challenges,” he said. “Overall, it was a wonderful day, really great.”

In a recent Facebook post, Smith echoed Sessoms, sharing with those who are friends with the fire department on the social media site that “we went not only to support a good cause but (also) to compete and work together with other departments. I feel like our guys did an awesome job not only representing our department’s training, teamwork, dedication, and (Roseboro Fire Chief Bobby Owen’s) leadership, but the fact that we could go and team with other departments from larger counties, paid and volunteer, and work together as if we trained and worked together with them every day. It is not everyone that can do that.”

Earlier this week, Owen expressed his own appreciation for the trio and stressed his pride in their recent accomplishments.

“When I got the call and they told me (about the wins), I was a little surprised. Some of those guys they were up against were guys who do this as a career; they’re professionals. But the fire chief is always proud when his guys do a good job and they did that; they did a great job. They represented us well which makes us all proud.”

Lauren Williams can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 117 or via email at lwilliams@civitasmedia.com.

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