I had been invited to attend the County Line Fire Department’s Annual Awards Dinner. Actually, I was also their guest speaker.
I had been fighting a stomach virus all week and wasn’t 100% sure I’d be able to make it.
Rhett (FireCritic.com) was unavailable for this trip so I had to either suck it up or cancel. Thankfully, my wife was up for the challenge and volunteered to drive me down. I arrived with an upset stomach and shot nerves but we made it in one piece and only had to stop twice…LOL.
I’m glad I decided to go. Rhett and I are fortunate to be able to travel, visit firehouses and meet Brothers and Sisters from all over the Country. As you can imagine, we see all kinds. The “pay off” for us is when we get to meet and spend some time with the ones who actually “get it” and the County Line Fire Department definitely fits into that category! I knew it as soon as we pulled into the parking lot.
Several of the members seen us pull in and came out to greet / welcome us. When we stepped inside, members were diligently working to prepare for the evening’s events yet they took the time, stopped what they were doing, came over to shake our hands, welcomed us, and introduce themselves. They told us to make ourselves at home and that’s exactly how we felt…. at home.
We got the full tour and I have to tell ya … I was impressed!
Keep in mind that this was not a “state of the art / modern” station filled with brand new apparatus either. The station was 40 years old… built by and added on to by it’s members.
Everything they showed me had a story…. history. How or why they got this piece or that. Who helped build it or how they raised the money to purchase it. To steal a phrase from Chief Rick Lasky (link), there was a feeling or sense of “Pride and Ownership”. It was evident that the County Line Fire Department has “buy in” from it’s members and the community!
While remodeling, they included a training room with audio / visual. The walls have hide-away bunks to allow for overnight duty crews or to serve as a shelter for the community if needed.
They have their own hose tester, cascade system / compressor and much, much more.
As often as possible, the send members to outside training events such as the National Fire Academy. They hold regular training meetings, in-house; every Monday and even have an acquired structure (across the street) where they have several “mocked up” scenarios (entanglement, MAYDAY etc).
Assistant Chief C.J. Dwiggins explained that it not only benefits their current members (and their families) but it also acts as a great RECRUITMENT tool! Signing up with County Line is like getting a family membership to your own private gym.
That was another refreshing thing I noticed. Their recruitment program must be working. They had a good mix of young vs. veteran members. Again I’ll say that obviously, somebody at County Line FD is doing something right and it’s refreshing to see!
I explained to them that I was NOT there because I knew more than they did. I was NOT there because I’ve seen or done it all. I was NOT there because they didn’t have members as qualified to speak as me. And I was NOT there because I come from a bigger or better Department.
I was there because, like most Departments; their members are more likely to listen to me rather than one of their own members offering the same lecture / advice. Think about that statement for a moment …. is the same true for your Department / members? I’d bet so.
So my talk was about the changing culture of the fire service and how to build or continue building / fostering a positive culture within the County Line FD and the fire service as a whole. I think it was well received!
I’d like to thank Chief Brian Koontz and Assistant Chief C.J. Dwiggins for the invitation.
Thanks as well to each and every one of their members for the hospitality and BROTHERHOOD shown to me and my wife.
I’d also like to say CONGRATULATIONS to the award winners (L-R)
Jack Koontz. Chief’s Choice Award
Amy Michalski. First Responder of the Year
Justin Lanin. Junior Firefighter of the Year.
County Line Fire Department is located in Mocksville North Carolina and serves both Iredell and Davie Counties. They have approx. 35 members and responded to 235 emergency calls in 2013.
Stay SAFE and in House!