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Rural fire departments ... Essential to small communities

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Myrtle Volunteer Fire Department
MYRTLE -- The Myrtle Volunteer Fire department has about a dozen active volunteers and operates through the donations of the community.

Carroll Garrison has served as the fire chief for the fire department the last 10 years.

The Myrtle VFD Board of Directors includes Jerry Smith, J.A. Smith, David Sorrell, Donald Agnew, Richard Morgan and Paul Larsen is president.

The board meets the first Thursday evening of each month for training and keeping up on general fire department business.

The fire department depends on three vehicles, a 2,400 gallon tanker, a 1998 Freightliner with a new pump that holds 2,000 gallons of water and a one-ton 250 gallon brush truck.

Garrison said the fire department has no limits or boundaries where it will go to help in a fire situation. "We go to Couch town when needed and go to the junction of V Highway and 142 East," the chief said.

The fire department operates from a two year old building (already paid for) next to the Myrtle Community Building.

The land the community center and the fire department is located on was donated by the Wilkerson family. Buster Wilkerson, now deceased, was instrumental in getting the fire department organized and incorporated in 1981.

"We owe a special thanks to the Wilkerson family for their support and donation to the fire department," fire department, secretary Delores Larsen said.

"Most of our fire calls are brush fires, although we have answered a couple of house fire calls in the last couple of months," Garrison said.

The fire department has four fire phones that ring at four different locations, McFann Garage, the John Ogden residence, the Kathy Hopper residence and the home of Bonnie Francis. The fire number is 938-4521.

The fire department has five useable fire suits, a jaws of life and a defibulator.

The fire chief said the county recently received new radios and gave them the old radios for their fire trucks.

Garrison said the fire department has two main fundraisers during the year. Its annual catfish and chicken dinner held Memorial Day weekend, and they serve breakfast and lunch during Yester Daze activities.

"Our community really pulls together and helps when we have needed them. That's very important to small rural fire departments," he said.

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