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SURF CITY, NC (WWAY) — After more than 46 years on the job, a Pender County F
fire department finds itself at a crossroads.

Members of the Surf City Volunteer Fire Department say they found out last week the county plans to end its contract for their service, giving members a tough decision to make.

The members of the Surf City Volunteer Fire Department met Monday evening to vote on the department’s future. A future that is still unclear.

For the men and women of Fire Station 1200 saving lives is their way of life.

“This is a family. We are dedicated to one another. We are fireman. We run into fires, not away from fires and you have to depend on your brother. You don’t have a choice but to depend on your brother. We have a strong brotherhood here and we are bound together,” said David Garten.

Monday evening 53 members of the department came together to discuss their future.

“I think we are going to try and merge with Pender EMS. As a group we decided that tonight, but we are hoping to get something a little better from the county officials and see what is going to happen from there,” said Paul Werkmeister.

Both Garten and Werkmeister are members of the volunteer fire department.

Several options on the table included merging with Pender EMS, merging with the Town of Surf City Fire Department or even shutting their doors for good.

“We want the citizens here in this district to know what’s going on. Don’t keep it a secret from them. Let them know. We want the county commissioners to come here and meet with us. Let’s all be honest with one another,” said Garten.

Rep. Mike McIntyre presented the department with a federal grant Monday, which would let them buy much needed equipment.

If the department merges with Pender EMS all the departments equipment maybe sold to cover more than $400,000 in outstanding debt.


Comment on this Story

  • tax payer

    Ok listen here you are missing the point I am making, a lot of fire departments now don’t want anyone that is not fire 1 cert to go into a fire because of the lack of training and so many people getting hurt they want them to have the training before hand period. actually my house has burnt down for that information a long time ago and three departments that came there messed up big time due to lack of communication. first they need to be able to work with the other departments during training and they cant even do that. none of the departments can get along enough to the training they need to. everyone wants to talk about a brotherhood and they are a brotherhood if they were half of the brotherhood they claim to be they would work together but the real question is when you have someone in charge that isn’t even firefighter 1 and 2 cert what does that say to the members

  • SCVFD member

    Do you think it justifies to keep on with this? No matter what your opinion is its just an opinion. Please for the sake of our dignity, your dignity, and our district or county, please stop. I know a lot of people have a grudge with meatball, but this is past him. A lot of Good people including public, are going get hurt because of this. People are verbally attacking people and calling people out on facebook. A High ranking officer has verbally attacked members and public. I mean does anyone know no bound. People need to realize this is a part of politics, sometimes we elected people to screw us over, it happens. This is a chance for two stations to come together and build a “community” fire department, one for the people, by the people. But here is an idea, and not once was this talked about, If the community wants to keep 1200 how about we all get together and show the commissioners on the 17th that this fire departments blood runs deep. If there are ones who want the merge to hurry and happen then show up on the 17th and show support for a greater unity. Simple as that. If you don’t want to show up on the 17th then why are you expressing an opinion where it wont make a difference. Isnt that whats wrong with this great nation now? Train of thought. GOD Bless us all and Bless The U.S.A.

  • lives in district

    Fyi for everyone who says $400,000 of debt is a lot is obviously not in the fire service. That is minimal for a fire dept. The thing about there debt is that they are not behind on any payments. A typical fire truck by itself is over $500,000. So tell me how $400,000 is a lot of debt for a fire dept. When other fire depts in the area are at 2 million combined in debt give or take. One local fire dept is in over a million in debt and they go out and buy a$50,000 kitchen. Thats crazy spending. How is that helping the people we serve. Ever dollar spent by surf city is for the good of the community and have great impact on the people we serve. As far as leadership goes surf city has one of the greatest chiefs in the area. As far as only 1 or 2 qualified firefighter on the roster is far from the truth. Almost everyone on the roster are qualified interior firefighters except the ones who are new to the dept as we try to grow. Just goes to show you that because of the actions in the last 10 years by the other 2 local depts and there wrong doing the innocent dept is the one to suffer. As a tax payerof surf city I am not asking from insight from the ones outside of the district. I am seeking the insight of the ones who live in this district, who have seen the dept grow from where it started to where it is today, and the people who have needed there services. Those are the people who like me need to let the county aware that we are not ok with this change. Stay stronh surf city vol. Brighter days are ahead.

  • fredrick gram

    I think this will be a good move for both fire departments there are a lot of great people on both. I bet if this move happens this will become an unstoppable department. there will be no greater fire protection on the east side of the county. scvfd has great members and great officers and leaders of the department, who are any of you to judge them like yall don’t make bad mistake in your decisions. these a great guys both paid and volunteer. theses guys do a lot for our community. this will be a great move for the fire service of these to departments.

  • Guest 0201

    OK when something of yours is on fire are you gonna ask whose certified to go save your things no I don’t think.

  • Guest 3612

    Apparently it is because your reading and commenting on it

  • someone who pays taxes to the fire department

    The person that is posting from wilmington is right you don’t run into fire.. but you guys only have a few firefighters that are even qualified to go into fires and you tell me how that’s helping the fire department its actually harming others. I know they tried to race to get to scenes first and a lot of the people there do not get treated equally you tell me how that’s fair and professional. It seems like that fire department just wants publicity and wants to start drama between the County and the fire department and other fire departments

  • local volunteer of SCVFD

    I am very disappointed in my volunteer brothers holding a grudge like this. This has been taken way out of context. No one said paid was better than volunteer. No one was ever saying anything was wrong with the volunteers of anywhere or anything. How dare any volunteer tell anyone to show respect. You are way out of line. And this Lacie person are you even out of the third grade, can you even spell? maybe you need to learn to write to sound a little more business like. Keep the negative to yourself, no one has any reason to tell the public how to feel, or what to do, you made yourself look very uneducated. our district is important to me also, but no reason to beat a dead horse. We as members of that station let it happen to ourselves. WE MADE THE WRONG DESCISIONS and we let our leaders do it to, we could have stopped it, we still could. The fact is we are looking at the inevitable its only a matter of time, its been that way for the past 9 years I am no rookie and I am a 1 & 2 cert along with many more certs. So when the SCVFD charter is gone, im not going to complain as what the rest are doing now, im going to still serve this district because I do care that much. I know it hurt to have the station pulled right out from under us it hurts, it was our home. however the TRUE brothers at SCVFD should realize all fire departments are our brothers too, so if you disbelieve that then maybe your not a real brother. so brothers lets put on our big boy pants, and stop this endless pile, and be there for our community NO MATTER WHAT. Don’t let your (know better) down. And to be honest anyone one who thinks there not allowed or going to be allowed to volunteer somewhere else should actually try to do so first. There are too many Volunteer stations around to not find home in one of them, also there is no need to blame anyone other than the SOUL MEMBERSHIP AT SCVFD, the Board, the Officers, and even including myself.

  • Wilmington Observer

    In your, incoherent, post you tried to say something about firemen running into fires to put them out. I am not a fireman, never have been and never will be. Fire scares me, therefore I know that I would be a disservice to the profession. But, one thing that I have learned, from friends who are (professional – both paid and volunteer) firemen is that a fireman never runs into a fire. A fireman, calmly, methodically, purposefully and cautiously, WALKS towards a fire as he inventories his surroundings.

    I think that the, “jump off the truck, grab a hose and run into a burning building like a bunch of ants who have just discovered a dropped piece of sandwich” mentality (and witnessed actions) is one of the reasons that your agency has the reputation that it has.

    One last observation that I’ve made about the firefighters that I’ve known over the years……. they have a, strong enough, command of the English language to be able to write a paragraph (about most anything) and anyone who reads it will know exactly what they have just read.

    Wilmington Observer

  • Someone who pays taxes to that Fire Dept

    If its such a great Fire Department then why is this all going on as a tax payer I am concerned that the chief isn’t speaking out and its just the fire Departments members that really haven’t been there that long. I’m pretty sure the people that are speaking out have been a firefighter… how many burning houses, wrecks, or water rescue calls have you been on?? Its not that people is judging the department its people judging what’s going on in the dept. I am a firefighter and if they need new gear then why in the world are they wanting to get new trucks and stuff that they don’t need?? since its in the paper it must be true, or it would be a form of slander, I don’t think the news reporters would put themselves in that position. all of them from that department are just trying to cover up for the chief that’s what I’m guessing, the chief putting that department in the hole. as a tax payer I am honestly wanting the town to take over I’ve been saying that for a while because honestly there isn’t a lot of firefighters that are one and two cert there. I mean who goes to PA to get a truck that you guys don’t need… evidently you guys don’t need the gear that bad if they are wanting to get a new truck.. I am so fed up with this department they need to step back and look at what’s going to make the community better and make them look better and that station is looking pretty bad and I mean you guys don’t even run a lot of calls a lot of the other people don’t even want you guys showing up on their scenes because you guys cant work them at all! and I would say why would you call it a budget most would call it bankruptcy. but then again evidently you have a 1st rate mouth with a third rate professionalism. and I know you are volunteers but that don’t mean you cant be professional. Oh excuse me ya’ll are NOT professional AT ALL

  • Wilmington Observer

    Your posts are NOT helping your cause.

    Wilmington Observer

  • jj

    Wow, 400,000 in outstanding debt. You “group of guys” need to raise your dues..

  • Lacie

    Oh by the way just because it in the paper doesn’t mean its true so y’all want to go bye here say and judge our department and I’m sure none of you have the personal experience to b a fire fighter and there are more than two great fire fighters OH AND BY THE WAY THEY ARE VOULEENTER they don’t get paid it take an awesome and brave person to run in fires and put them out and all they ask in return is respect they don’t ask for money and by the way they do need gear and things to protect themselves that were money goes so really you can kick rocks

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