‘Career’ and volunteer begin to meshPublished 2:02pm Thursday, March 7, 2013
Located closest to the burgeoning North Suffolk area, Driver Volunteer Fire Department has been most affected by the astronomical growth there in recent years.
The 2010 census showed a growth rate for Suffolk of nearly 33 percent from the 2000 count. The vast majority of that growth was concentrated in an area that has Driver on the outskirts.
It wasn’t just residential growth that took off in that time frame — businesses shot up, as well. With a growing assortment of large office buildings, industrial facilities and retail outlets, each new building creates a potential new fire.
So it came as no surprise when the city moved to place career staff at Station 10 around the clock. But that doesn’t mean the Driver volunteers have lost their role, Chief Fred Callis said.
“With the population and the growth of the northern end, I think it’s for the best,” Callis said. “Nine shifts a week are hard to cover with volunteers. Manning was really, really tough at times, and the city is really growing fast.”
Since the change occurred last year, the volunteers and career staff have meshed well, Callis said. Volunteers continue to run calls, either getting on city equipment to help out the paid members who respond or staying behind in case other calls come in from the station’s service area.
“The working partnership has been very good among volunteers versus careers,” Callis said, though acknowledging there have been a couple rough patches. “It’s been enjoyable.”
Callis said there are about 40 active members on the rolls of the organization, which started in 1961.
The members are always available to help on any call, he added.
“When a big structure catches fire, career ain’t going to be able to handle it alone,” he said.