JACKSON COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - Like many rural fire departments across the state of Arkansas, the Erwin Volunteer Fire Department is desperate for volunteers, and they are voicing their message loud and clear. "Come join us, come help, come volunteer when you have that extra minute," said April Mullins, who is a firefighter with the Erwin Volunteer Fire Department in Jackson County. An while a lot of the equipment is older than she is, what the department really needs is volunteers.
Right now, if there's a fire, the department only has 8 members who can fight the blaze. "That's not a lot when it comes to a house fire or structure fire. In this heat, we tire out too easy. It's costing the people a lot of their valuable property because we don't have the man power to save what needs to be saved," said Mullins. A lot of times, Mullins says they have to call on two to three of the surrounding fire departments to take on any particular fire.
"I feel like the firefighters we have are worked down," said Florence Peters, who has lived in Erwin for 26 years. As a citizen, she is concerned about the safety of the community. "When it comes to our homes. There's nothing great than having a home, but there's nothing worst than having a fire to burn it down," said Peters.
If the department could get at least 20 members, Mullins says more grant money would be available. "We could get better trucks, better protective gear, and the list just goes on and on. Better radios. Better things to protect the people we are trying to protect," said Mullins.
It could also play apart on the Insurance Service Office Rating for home owners living in the community. "We could get more members to were we could pump our trucks longer, and we wouldn't tire out so easy. That would lower our ISO rating and the people in the communities insurance go down on their home," said Mullins.
Mullins says while they need firefighters, she's any help would be welcome. Whether it's offering to help maintain the department, or bring water to the scene of a fire. If you're interested in lending a helping hand, just call Erwin Fire Chief Lynn Plye at (870) 217-3968.