I'm very interested in your involvement in the fire departments in the area, specifically Wrightsboro. I'm also interested in your knowledge regarding the history of the departments, and how the actions of these officers came to your attention. It makes me wonder if you are aware of the years of experience and professional training a majority of these volunteers have as they continue to serve our community-without pay. For example, my father-a volunteer-was a professional fire fighter for the federal government at Sunny Point for over twenty years, as a captain, AFTER working for Wilmington as a captain. A former Lt. for Wrightsboro worked with my father and is STILL working as a captain at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point. One of the Assistant Chiefs is a retired Assistant Chief for the City of Wilmington, among many other volunteers in nearby communities with extensive experience. I personally know several fire fighters currently on the County’s payroll that began and underwent most of their training as volunteers. Another interesting point that leads me to question the nature of the County’s intentions is the fact that several of these firefighters COULD NOT continue to serve the community as Volunteers once they became employees of the County, citing it as a “conflict of interest.” Would you disagree that this has anything to do with volunteer departments losing members with accreditation? Or am I naïve to think that this is just the beginning of many valuable members being lost to county regulation? Whether you agree with consolidation or not, it is certainly a bold remark to infer that there are only “a few” great volunteers, and I would politely invite you to Wrightsboro any day of the week, where you will find volunteers there daily, actively involved in the care of equipment and call response.
Now, specifically regarding your statements about the incident with a Volunteer officer…I would also like to politely remind you that mistakes are made by county employees and volunteers alike. For instance, July 7th, 2009 New Hanover County Fire Rescue responded to a fully involved two story residence. There was backdraft, and an explosion occurred. There is footage of the explosion on youtube, and I encourage you to watch the video. While the explosion is not likely to be the fault of these firefighters, upon further inspection of the footage I see employees in tee shirts running from the scene. It was a very dangerous and volatile situation-however these employees are within feet of a fully involved fire without full turnout gear? How does this situation reflect training and safety measures of County Fire Rescue? With this being said, I have respect for any individual willing to risk their lives for the sake of a stranger, and I simply ask the same of you.
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