Time, commitment, and service are what being part of a volunteer fire department is all about noted Deputy Fire Chief Ben Barksdale of the Prince George County, Maryland EMS. Barksdale was the guest speaker at the Colonial Beach Volunteer Fire Department’s and Ladies Auxiliary Installation of Officers dinner and awards ceremony. The 6503 total man-hours of time donated by these individuals is a testament to Barksdale’s statement.
Of those hours, approximately 3318 were for service, 1436 for training, 490 for funding, and 1168 for miscellaneous meetings, etc. The members ran a total of 870 calls: 155 Fire, 70 accidents, 557 EMS, and 88 public service.
Barksdale lauded the dedication of the many volunteers, stating that it was a small town like Colonial Beach that had provided him the foundation to be successful. He currently works for the 14th busiest company in the country and boasts 1400 fit tested volunteers.
Barksdale noted that being a fire fighter is a mental and physical test and advised the volunteers to “never consider our training to stop”. He also noted that they should “always be prepared”, be as “efficient as can be”, and to “train as if our lives depend on it-which it does”.
He also encouraged them to consistently challenge themselves to be the most efficient and the most effective, to never confuse passion with proficiency, and to get rid of complacency. He advised those in attendance that when they think they have mastered it, that it is time to hang up your hat.
He also offered other insights such as: never defend the indefensible (for example, not wearing your seatbelt because it is uncomfortable), own up to mistakes and take measures to correct them, and to drill and train with an eye to respecting the concept of safety. He noted that the firefighters should only “risk a life to save a life” and that “safety stands toe to toe with respect”.