Volunteers Fill In While Wayne Firefighters Attend Funerals
Posted November 10, 1998 6:00 a.m. EST
GOLDSBORO — Hundreds of firefighters from all over North Carolina and several neighboring states came to pay their respects to the two firefighters who lost their lives in last Friday's Wayne County fire. But others came to give a helping hand.
Hundreds of local firefighters attended the two men's funerals, but someone had to cover their shifts. Firefighters from all over the state and a few out of the state came to Wayne County to fill in for those empty shifts.
They take a chance every time they answer our calls for help. Wednesday, firefighters helped each other.
While firefighters in Wayne County grieved the loss of two brothers in arms, more than 200 firefighters from outside the county were answering their emergency calls.
Most of them did not even know the people they were filling in for. But they made it a priority to be in Wayne County Wednesday.
"You never know. There's always that danger of somebody getting hurt. It's important to know that we've got the support and that we can give the support when necessary," said Lee Gardner of the Eno Volunteer Fire Department.
Members of the Bahama Fire Department jumped at the chance to help, because two years ago, one of their own, Rick Dorsey, was killed at a call during Hurricane Fran.
"We had so much support that we knew that we were going to support these guys with anything we can do for them," said Bahama Volunteer Fire Department Chief Len Needham.
It is a massive operation to coordinate so many people unfamiliar with the local streets and neighborhoods.
Deputies manned each department so they could lead the volunteers quickly to any calls.
It is a great deal of trouble for everyone involved, but without the volunteers, many friends of Sidney Jones and Robbie Blizzard would have missed the chance to grieve together.
"I know that we're down here to support some of the same people that supported us when we had the five kids that were killed in a fraternity house fire. We received support from all over the nation. It's not that we feel we need to be here. We want to be here," said Lemuel Henderson of the Chapel Hill Fire Department.
All the people who went to Wayne County Wednesday had to have someone fill in for them, so they had some mutual support in the areas surrounding their counties as well.
Many of the firefighters are volunteers and have full-time jobs secondary to the fire department, and they had to get employers to let them off work so they could go to Wayne County and fill in.