Fire Chief Seeks Volunteers For Department
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WATER VALLEY – Water Valley Fire Chief Mark McGavock is looking for a few good volunteers. Actually more than a few, McGavock is seeking dozens of volunteers to boost response to fires and ultimately lower the city’s fire rating.
His goal is lofty, but the fire chief is confident that the community involvement that makes Water Valley a special and close-knit place could help boost his numbers. And with more firefighters, his goal is also for the Water Valley Fire Department to achieve a Level 4 Fire Rating, allowing the city to join a small group of departments across the state with a similar rating. If accomplished, the move from a Fifth Class rating to a Fourth Class rating by the Mississippi State Rating Bureau could mean a substantial savings on insurance premiums for residences and businesses in the city limits.
McGavock explained volunteers can perform a variety of duties, providing opportunities for people 18 and older.
“You don’t have to go in a burning house, You don’t even have to fight a fire to be on the fire department ” he shared. “There are roles for all capabilities, support roles and logistical roles. And if you really want to go into a burning house, we will train you for that too.”
There are only two requirements, obviously respond to fire calls, and perform monthly training. An active member could be a high school graduate who just turned 18 and may be curious about a career as a full-time fire fighter. The potential volunteer could train alongside the full-time fire fighters employed by the city, or even maintain shifts.
On the opposite end, the potential volunteer could be a retiree. Someone who can help in a support role during a fire call. McGavock explained that could be as simple as providing water or refreshments, filling air tanks, driving equipment – the list is endless and there is training for each duty.
Existing Volunteers Are Essential
The fire chief also noted there is already an active group of volunteers who are invaluable to the department. Volunteer fire fighters who are on the roster at Water Valley and other fire departments. They show up at just about every fire and assist the full-time firefighters employed by the department.
“We couldn’t do what we do without them. They fight fires,” McGavock said about the group.
But to get to a Level 4, McGavock needs more volunteers responding, and he needs new volunteers who are only on the Water Valley Fire Department roster. The formula used by the Mississippi Fire Rating Bureau only allows McGavock to count two fire fighters from a neighboring department when they respond alongside the Water Valley Fire Department to provide mutual aid for a fire in the city limits. It’s tricky, just about every volunteer on his department is also on another department in the county. That means if seven volunteers show up from Otuckalofa Fire Department to assist Water Valley, he can only count two.
Now let’s take a look at the run reports from 2022. The city averages just over nine fire fighters per call, and he needs 13 per call to score enough points to propel the department from a Level Five to a Level Four. That is where the new volunteers will be invaluable.
An interest meeting is scheduled at the fire department (next to the Water Valley High School football field on Wise Street) at noon on Saturday, Feb. 25.
The fire chief will share additional information and applications will be available after the meeting. The only requirements are the applicant must be 18 or older and have a valid driver’s license.
“Remember, there are unlimited training opportunities, unlimited career opportunities and support roles that anybody can perform,” McGavock stressed.
Volunteers receive $10 per fire call.