District III is all about supplying a helping hand

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Extending a helping hand should by now be second nature to those that make up the District III Volunteer Fire Department.

Extending a helping hand should by now be second nature to those that make up the District III Volunteer Fire Department.
In addition to their normal chores of protecting and serving their surrounding area, District III members have played a major part in getting other Magoffin County departments up and running.

When first formed in 1997 to serve the southern portion of the county, District III was the only Magoffin County fire department outside Salyersville.

Since then, its members have been instrumental in assisting in the formation of other departments such as Middle Fork and North Magoffin, providing equipment, knowledge, and any other bit of assistance available.

“We’ve tried to support all the other departments since we’ve been a department,” Tommy Howard, District III assistant chief, said. “Every new department has brought more fire protection to their particular areas, and the whole county because we all try to help each other out through mutual aid.”
Like those that have come after it, District III had its humble beginning, starting with a group of 15 training at Rick Salyer Body Shop and one 1979 pumper truck.
The station house was first located on Oakley in a building leased from Howard Engineering before the department received a grant and constructed its current home beside the body shop on land provided by Ricky Joe Salyer.
With support from coal severance funds, grant money, county support, and public donations, District III has grown its inventory and its members over the past 13 years.
The department features two pumpers, two tankers, and one mini-pumper, along with necessary tools and gear to get the job done.

Howard says the department is currently in the process of purchasing another pumper to replace the 1979 truck, which will be given to South Magoffin Volunteer Fire Department.

District III has on its list of duties responding to structure and auto fires, forest fires threatening structures, providing mutual aid to other departments, and helping the Magoffin County Rescue Squad by preparing landing zones in air medical situations.
The fire station also serves as an emergency shelter.
Howard says that department members have as a goal being public servants to the community all of the time.
Jim Joseph serves as the District III chief and Travis Joseph is assistant chief. Other department officials include Captain Rick J. Salyer, Lieutenant Tanner Stephens, Sergeant Alvin Poe, Safety and Training Officer carter Conley, Senior Fireman Charles Stephens, and Office Manager Henry Joseph.

District III has 29 active members with 17 of those being certified. Assistant Chief Howard says remaining members are currently working toward certification, which requires 150 hours of training in specific areas with an additional 20 hours every year.

“To be a volunteer firefighter you must have a lot of dedication to the department and the community,” Howard said.
With District III’s community and the department, it is a give and take situation with one supporting the other and vice versa.
“It has to be your human nature to want to help,” Howard said of volunteering. “You have to be willing to dedicate your time and work and have a caring for your neighbor.
“For the department itself, probably the hardest part is living off the community’s donations,” he added. “You hate to keep going back to the same people asking for help because there’s a limit to what they can give, but if we’re going to survive as a department we have no other choice.”

In exchange for the contributions, community members receive fire protection, and in the case of District III, a cheaper insurance premium.

Howard said the department had lowered the surrounding ISO rating from 10 to 7/9 “which lowers the cost of insurance for the public”.
Back in its start-up days, District III had big supporters in then judge-executive Paul H. Salyer and Marcella Salyer. Howard said former judge-executive Bill May and the current fiscal court members were and are supportive as well.
He also mentioned Senator Robert Stivers and U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers as friends of the department and said Scotty B. Patrick, Donna Salyer, Salyersville National Bank, and the Community Day Foundation plays a big part in the department’s existence.
The very special thank you, though, goes to District III members and their wives and family.
“They work hard helping us with fundraisers and other activities,” Howard said. “We couldn’t do it without their efforts.”
Howard says the dedication of time and the fear of not being able to save a life or somebody’s property is a downside.
But when, on those special occasions, things work out and people come with a thank you, Howard says he knows then that all the hard work and dedication is well worth it.
And, Howard added, District III Volunteer Fire Department is always open to new members.