Volunteers of all types lead by example

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Just what is a volunteer? According to Webster a volunteer is a person who enters into any service of his own free will.

During the years I worked with Special Olympics as coordinator, I came to find out that a volunteer is an individual who shows up every year and asks the same question: “What can I do?”

During my two years as a member of the Lawrence County MR/DD Board of Education, I find that I am meeting that same type of individual at MR/DD events: selfless, untiring workers, whose faces never change.

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I am sure that the above definition fits those who volunteer around the county for all worthwhile events. We’ve all met these volunteers at one time or another. They show up and do the job required and then fade away as an event closes until the next time volunteers are needed.

Another example of volunteers are the fire departments in Lawrence County. Ironton is the only full-time fire department in our county.

There are 15 volunteer fire departments in Lawrence County. Since I am a Coal Grove resident, I am going to dwell on my home fire department.

The members of a local volunteer fire department put in countless hours making sure the fire equipment is maintained and ready to go on a phone call’s notice. Rarely can one pass the Coal Grove Townhouse and not see one or more cars at the fire station.

It would be a catastrophe if the fire alarm went off, and the fire truck had a dead battery or simply would not start.

Fire department volunteers put in hours checking and rechecking their equipment.

Each volunteer undergoes 40 hours of mandatory state training followed by a minimum 24 hours of re-training each year.

The Coal Grove Fire Department averages between 50 and 100 hours of additional training each year.

Having a volunteer fire department meet state training standards actually lowers the cost of your homeowners insurance by several hundred dollars each year.

The Insurance Service Office rates fire departments on a scale of one to 10, according to Chief Sherman. Coal Grove’s fire department currently is rated Level 7 by ISO.

Our Fire Chief is Gary Sherman, who has been a fire volunteer for 27 years. Before Gary, his father, Jim Sherman, was Coal Grove Fire Chief for 41 years.

Other members of the Coal Grove Volunteer Fire Department include: Assistant Chief Chris Harmon, Captain Chad Kelly, Firefighters Jason Bloomfield, Holly Bunker, John Gillenwater, John Hackworth, T.J. Harrison, Brian Sherman, Jay Sherman, and Scott Sturgill.

Anyone wishing to become a volunteer firefighter may contact Chief Sherman at the fire station the 2nd or 4th Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m.

Football Trivia: Three sets of relatives from Coal Grove have participated in Ohio’s annual North-South football game. Cousins Jerry Fields, 1956 and John Fields, 1979; brothers John Bill Deeds, 1960 and Tim Deeds, 1966; and cousins Dustin Harmon, 2008 (son of Assistant Fire Chief Chris Harmon), and Travis Sherman, 2009 (son of Fire Chief Gary Sherman).

Mike Nourse is a retired educator and contributing columnist for The Tribune. He lives in Coal Grove with wife Clara Gail, also a retired educator.