The response from citizens after the Feb. 23 tornado has been a source of encouragement for the city of Columbus in the wake of the devastation. Almost as soon as the storm passed, neighbors joined first responders, utility crews and relief organizations to help their neighbors in need.
Disasters on this scale are rare, of course, but it should be remembered there are a group of citizens for whom responding to emergencies is something they are prepared to do at any time and with little notice.
We are talking about volunteer fireman. In Lowndes County, as it is with most of the state’s 82 counties, county fire departments are an all-volunteer operation. Their work is every bit as vital as their paid counterparts in our cities.
At any time of the day or night, our volunteer firefighters are ready to respond to a potentially tragic event every bit as devastating as a tornado, often at great personal risk.
This week, Lowndes County Fire Coordinator Neal Austin put out an urgent call to the community: He needs 20 to 30 new volunteers for the county’s fire department. The need is particularly great in District 4 (which includes the town of Crawford) and District 5 (which covers the Artesia area).
The volunteer firefighter has a unique place in our nation’s history. In fact, up until 150 years ago, all firefighters were volunteer. Much like today’s volunteer firefighters, they were regular folks with regular jobs who communities relied on in times of fires, which in that earlier era were much more common than today.
The urgent need for firefighters is an appeal to the community-minded. Certainly, it’s not a job that everyone can perform. It requires a person of good health who will sacrifice free time to be trained and will be willing to respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice.
But for those who can meet the requirements, it’s certainly one of the greatest services to a community that a citizen can offer.
We encourage able-bodied, community-minded citizens to carefully consider answering this call.
Those who do will be performing an essential service to their neighbors — saving life and property. If interested, call 662-329-5110.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.