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Always Ready to Serve

by Mark M.

I have served the community of Bearden, OK as a volunteer fire fighter since 1993. It's a small town of a few hundred people in rural America. In 1994, I became the fire chief of the Bearden Volunteer Fire Department. Being a volunteer fire fighter, I am on the clock 24/7; whenever my pager goes off, I drop everything to respond and help someone in need.

During these past few years, I have seen several major events consisting of structure fires, vehicle accidents, vehicle fires, search & rescues and wild fires. Many of the wild fires that have occurred in our fire district have put many citizens in severe danger due to the high winds in recent years.

With mutual aid agreements in place, we also assist other fire departments within and outside of our county in protecting citizens during an emergency. It is teamwork that has proven time after time, that we can perform a task that sometimes leaves you wondering why risks are taken.

We also conduct fire awareness programs for the local school in which fire detectors are given as prizes to the lucky number that is drawn. Several years ago, one young recipient of a fire detector woke up to the loud noise one early morning to find his house totally engulfed in smoke and flames. The family credits the smoke detector from the fire awareness program for alerting them, allowing all family members to get out safely.

Since that time, the department has volunteered with the Red Cross to implement the “save a life smoke detector program” by getting numerous smoke detectors donated and installed in households that could not afford them. I also serve as a storm spotter, when severe weather crosses into our county and fire district.

Mark is a federal employee stationed in Oklahoma. Even with a full-time job, Mark finds time to be a leader in his community as the head of the local fire department. Help keep your community safe by volunteering, first by reaching out to your local fire department. See if your local fire department would like to start a fire detector drive in your community, where you collect fire detectors from your neighbors and local businesses. Also search on Serve.gov: "fire department" or "Citizen Corps Council" or "community center" or "storms" or "fire detectors."

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