ROSEBORO — Much like the majority of the fire departments across Sampson County, the Roseboro Fire Department is in need of volunteers to step up to the call of duty.
During the departments recent ISO (Insurance Services Office) inspection, the town’s rating was lowered, but fire chief Lee Coleman said the department’s grade wasn’t as low as it could be due to a lack of staffing, as well as a low number of volunteers available to respond to calls.
While the department has placed 12-14 volunteers on the department in the last two years, Coleman said the department is loosing volunteers at the same time. There are about 30 volunteers currently serving on the Roseboro Fire Department, but Coleman said he would like to have more available to answer calls when they come in.
“Right now, we have a lot of new inexperienced volunteers who haven’t had all the necessary training,” Coleman stated during a recent interview at the department. “And, 80 percent of our volunteers work a full-time job during the day, so they aren’t able to answer all the calls that come in.”
When calls are received, Coleman said a department must have a minimum of four responders to send a truck out to a call. Many years ago, when departments were first established, it was easy for a fireman to leave his job and respond to calls, but that isn’t the case today.
“Many times we have the bare minimum here to answer a call,” Coleman said. “And when a call is answered, someone must have experience handling the pump. That’s a vital part of the call.”
Of the 30 volunteers who are currently serving on the fire department, Coleman said there are some with more than 35 years of experience. Since Coleman joined the department in 1997, none of the volunteers have served with any other department in a paid position.
That, Coleman said, just shows how dedicated the volunteers are.
“All the training they receive is done on their own time,” Coleman said.
While responders do receive a minimal compensation for each call they answer, they are not reimbursed for their travel. Volunteers of the Roseboro department are also offered benefits.
“Many of the departments aren’t able to offer this luxury,” Coleman shared.
According to Coleman, the only requirements to join the Roseboro department are to posses a Class C licenses and be 18 years of age. No previous fire training or experience is necessary. Some departments offer a junior fireman’s program, for those ages 16-18.
To improve the ISO rating in the future, Coleman said he would like to place two individuals on the staff as paid members, but before that can happen, he is looking at getting more volunteers.
“The more you have volunteering on the department, the more you have that can show up to calls,” Coleman said. “We want to build our membership with productive members.”
On average, the Roseboro Fire Department responds to approximately 300 calls per year. Those serving on the department are required to respond to a minimum of 10 percent of the total calls to remain on the department’s volunteer list. Responders are also required to attend four hours of training per month.
Five years ago, Jonathan Tanner joined the department and since then, his two brothers have followed and joined. His youngest brother, Wesley, just 18-years-old, joined the department as a volunteer just three weeks ago. The middle brother, Brandon, joined about three years ago.
“When all the tornadoes came through a few years ago, I decided I wanted to join and help show other people support,” Brandon, 21, said.
While Jonathan didn’t recruit his younger brothers to join the department as volunteers, he said he is supportive of their decision.
“I’m glad they made the decision,” Jonathan said.
The younger brother said he would admit his other brothers had an influence on his decision to join.
“I saw them doing it and I wanted to do it myself,” Wesley stated.
Brandon said the department is more like a family to each of its members.
“There is family atmosphere around here,” he said. “We are all good friends and we help each other out not just at the department, but in life as well.”
For anyone interested in joining the Roseboro Fire Department, contact Coleman at 910-990-1969. If someone is interested in joining another department in the county, contact the Sampson County Emergency Management Services at 910-596-8996.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.