Northside firefighters deploy to Roberdell UMC

Church members honor Northside firefighters with annual dinner

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Firefighters and family members of Northside Volunteer Fire Department were honored Wednesday by members of Roberdell United Methodist Church with a homemade dinner.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Firefighters and family members of Northside Volunteer Fire Department were honored Wednesday by members of Roberdell United Methodist Church with a homemade dinner.

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

ROBERDEL — Firefighters from the Northside Volunteer Fire Department were deployed 0.9 miles away to Roberdell United Methodist Church shortly after 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The firefighters brought pretty much every fireman that could be rustled up and the mission required every vehicle in the fleet. After all, when there’s homemade food and desserts at stake, no one gets left behind.

In a dinner by the congregation of Roberdell UMC, led by Pastor Bob Carpenter — who doubles as the fire department’s chaplain — church members recognized the efforts of those who put their lives on the line — potentially each and every time an emergency call for help is received. The event has occurred since September 2002, a year after the terrorist attacks on U.S. soil in Washington D.C., New York City and Shanksville, Pa.., on Sept. 11, 2001.

“We really appreciate it,” said Chief Edward Causey, who has missed only one of the 13 dinners over the years. “Everybody in the county doesn’t get what we get.”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Northside Volunteer Fire Department's fleet was neatly lined up in the lawn across from Roberdell United Methodist Church.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Northside Volunteer Fire Department’s fleet was neatly lined up in the lawn across from Roberdell United Methodist Church.

Causey said the department has 38 active firefighters and six junior firefighters that cover an area of roughly 40 square miles, the largest primary coverage area of any fire department in Richmond County. The department responds to between 180 and 200 calls a year in an area that stretches from Roberdel to Rockingham, from Ellerbe to Hoffman and from Rockingham to Cordova.

More than 70 people attended the dinner, including dozens of firefighters and family members. In order to prepare for the dinner, Lillian Terry said she and a small army began cooking at 2:30 p.m. The day before, Terry said, she “cheated” and ground the cabbage needed for the slaw ahead of time.

“Everybody has pitched in and helped,” Terry said.

Terry said Roberdell UMC is a small church, but Terry said everyone works well together.

That’s the idea behind firefighting. As people like the members of Roberdell United Methodist Church show support for those who protect their homes and prizes possessions in emergencies, fire department leaders are showing the department is reinvesting in the community.

Jim Chavis, chairman of the department’s board of directors, said bids are being received for the construction of a new Station No. 1 at the intersection of Northside Drive and Bear Branch Road. Chavis said he expects the estimated $1.2 million project to be awarded to a contract in October and to break ground before the end of the year.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Michael Smith, in the blue-and-white stripped shirt, stands with members of the Northside Volunteer Fire Department.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Michael Smith, in the blue-and-white stripped shirt, stands with members of the Northside Volunteer Fire Department.

Causey, chief since July 2012, said the new fire hall is expected to be a nine-month build and to open in Summer 2015. The department is taking out a loan to fund the project and paying the loan back through revenue from fire tax district revenue.

It’s a lesson in teamwork that Michael Smith will share with others. Smith, a senior in Richmond Senior High School’s occupational preparation program, is researching the career of a firefighter for his senior project. On Wednesday, he met with Causey and others along with Cindy Floyd, his teacher at Richmond Senior and also a member of Roberdell United Methodist Church.

It wasn’t her idea to combine the annual memorial dinner and Smith’s project, Floyd said. But when he chose firefighting, it didn’t take her long to make the connection.

“He’s got a head start,” Floyd said.

Several door prizes were handed out. Many of the prizes were donated by Jenkins Auto Parts. The menu for the evening included chicken ‘n’ dumplings, cole slaw, green beans, iced tea and several desserts, including red velvet cake, peach cobbler and more.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

 

 

 

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