By Theresa Scott
The Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department recently had a task to complete. Assistant Fire Chief Brian Casto took a crew to Oak Ridge. Upon arrival at the City of Oak Ridge’s main building, Assistant Chief Casto was directed to the Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson’s office. It was time for the papers to be signed. The title needed to be transferred and keys handed over. Oak Ridge Fire Chief Darryl Kerley was there to give further verbal instructions.
While the department heads were inside signing documents and discussing the final technicalities, the crew waited outside. However, without patience, they were found opening doors to compartments, checking out gauges, wiping off the windshield, checking out the view from the driver’s seat of the big yellow fire truck. This big, yellow Quality fire truck is going into full service but in a different zip code. It will still get the same hands-on care that it always had, but now it will be with a new crew out in the country. Perhaps out in the country, but still in the same county. The Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department was getting one of the surplus trucks. Most of the crew were laughing and chatting like a bunch of children on Christmas morning. The excitement was obvious.
Thank you to the City of Oak Ridge for keeping this (as well as the one that was recently transferred to our Medford Volunteer Fire Department) in our county. It is important that we continue to pay it forward amongst ourselves as we may very well need to depend on it sometime in the future. The residents of Andersonville are very fortunate to have such caring volunteers. These men and women put their lives on the line when called to the scene of an automobile accident, a working residential or commercial property fire, or even to the water if there’s been a boating accident.
On another note, there were recently over 35 volunteer firefighters in attendance at Andersonville’s Belmont Station Number 3 for the University of Tennessee Lifestar educational seminar entitled “Landing Zones.” Several certified instructors gave a casual yet very informative class. It mainly focused on what the pilot needs to know before being able to land the helicopter to take a patient to the hospital. Communication is a must before they are able to confirm a landing. The fire department on the ground to receive the helicopter must know more about their surroundings than most of us ever take into consideration. There is dust and gravel that can create a “brown out.” Yard and business signs as well as garbage cans can “fly.” The pilot also needs to know if there is a cell phone tower that stands less than 200 feet high. Anything shorter isn’t required to have a beacon. Simply put, if there’s not a light on it, the pilot may not see it. Drooping power lines can be invisible to someone on a helicopter. Power lines are like spider webs.
This same station will soon have an oversized “H” in the middle of the concrete drive way/parking lot. This is because they will soon be certified to be a heliport. A sock will fly over the garage doors to let the pilot know of the current wind direction. While the heliport is vacant, it will be a reminder to the residents of the community of how fortunate they are to have something so fine tucked off to the side for that “just in case” moment. This is something that the Andersonville community is receiving because some of their friends and neighbors care.
In closing, I would like to ask everyone who reads this to please, be kind to one another and to continue to pay it forward. At least say “Thank You!” to the volunteer firefighters of Anderson County. They do this without the expectation of a paycheck. These men and women do this for FREE. And we all know that FREE is certainly hard to come by these days.
Theresa Scott is an Anderson County commissioner in District 7.