By Ben Lawson
When a volunteer fire department as large the Seymour’s goes into the field, they rely on an equally sufficient support system of other volunteers known as the Support Services Division, a dedicated group made possible thanks to the community’s generosity.
A division of the national Fire Corps organization, Seymour’s Support Services Division is an all-volunteer force of civilians who give their time responding alongside the SVFD and other area responders, fulfilling a variety of roles that include medical support and rehab for exhausted firefighters.
The group has grown from four members when it was formed to 14 now and has become a model for similar programs across the country as the recipient of the 2010 Fire Corps Award of Excellence.
“It’s quite an astonishing feat what my people have accomplished,” said David Caulfield, the program’s coordinator.
In supporting the SVFD, the Support Service handles their own fundraising in an effort to drawn as little money from the department as possible. In order to have responders present at vehicle accidents and structural fires, which frees up firefighters, the division relies heavily on the community.
“It’s because of the support, not just from Sevier, but Blount and Knox, too. We’re so blessed,” Caulfield said.
That generosity played a major part in the group’s activities this year in the form of several huge donations of equipment. The group operates a mobile rehab and command vehicle used to provide relief for firefighters battling long blazes, but the truck was simply too large to navigate some of the terrain they encounter. Realizing a need for a vehicle better suited, Caulfield looked into purchasing an all terrain vehicle when an anonymous donor delivered a BobCat 4×4 right to their doorstep.
“I had just finished drafting the proposal for fundraising the previous night,” he said.
More donations followed, including a trailer to haul the BobCat, a new portable generator and most recently, a Chevrolet Suburban.
All donations were made anonymously, which Caulfield says he understands but wishes he could thank the individuals involved. The new equipment has already allowed them to respond in areas where they would have had difficulty before.
Now better equipped to provide air conditioning, blankets, water and “Cool Vests” used to keep firefighter from overheating, the division has expanded its ability to provide the same level of service on any call.
This is in part why Seymour’s Support Service has been modeled after by fire departments across the country. Caulfield is the state advocate for Fire Corps and has seen many of the more than 40 Fire Corps programs in Tennessee.
“Ninety percent of my traveling is to teach about what we do here in Seymour,” he said.
To maintain that level of performance, Caulfield requires drivers to be proficient in operating certain vehicles. But other than that, he prides himself on working with people from all walks of life, including housewives, to security officers and human resource personnel.
“I’ll take anyone,” he said. “All I need are two good hands and a willingness.”
Service Draws Generous Support
By Ben Lawson