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Fire Danger Sign Placed at Galaxy

By Staff | Jul 15, 2020

Pictured from left to right is James Chapman, Casey Edwards, RJ Holder, Jim Wade, Jon Wilson, Mitch Wilcox, Jason Wayne, Ron McCrobie, and Jason Maisey.

Motorists passing by the Middlebourne Galaxy have probably noticed a new familiar face waving from the hillside. Smokey Bear can be seen alongside a fire danger sign declaring the possibility of a forest fire occurring.

This project was originated by Linda Kile, who came up with the idea and pushed the State Forestry Division to put the sign up.

According to Forester Jon Wilson, the sign will be updated to reflect current conditions as the fire weather changes. “If the sign says the fire danger is “LOW” it means the environmental conditions are such that it is unlikely a forest fire will start,” Wilson says. “If the sign says the fire danger is “HIGH” it means that a forest fire could easily start and spread rapidly. During high fire danger times it is not recommended that any outdoor burning be conducted. It is meant to be a reminder to citizens when they should be extra careful with activities that could cause forest fires.”

Casey Edwards, owner of the Middlebourne Galaxy, reported the decision to allow the sign be placed on the store’s property was easily made. “When they approached me to put it up, it was pretty much a no-brainer. Our business has always been about supporting the community. Fire obviously hits home with my company, and anything to help prevent that was a no-brainer,” Edwards said.

Middlebourne Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jason Maisey reported the department has a brush truck designed specifically for forest fires. Although the department is prepared if a fire were to occur within the county, much of their efforts go toward preventing this from happening. “We do fire prevention in the schools, and really push that,” said Maisey.

Forester Jon Wilson and members of the local volunteer fire departments worked to install the new Fire Danger sign near the Galaxy in Middlebourne.

Ron McCrobie, the Chief at Alma’s Volunteer Fire Department, reiterated the necessity of fire prevention education, even beginning at an early age. “We appreciate that Jon comes out and we go to different schools and try to teach kids early and instill different things to do as far as prevention and to not be scared of the fire fighters,” McCrobie said. “Preventing fires helps…We’d rather stop it before it starts. We love teaching the young kids and they love having us come to them.”

Shirley Fire Assistant Chief Mitch Wilcox reported he began his journey fighting fires 49 years ago when he was recruited to help fight a brush fire while in school. “We really appreciate all the work that Jon gives us. We will go out in the communities with him and with Smokey and talk with kids…and from that we get some help down the road from the younger people when they get old enough to join the fire department,” Wilcox said. Wilcox works closely alongside Shirley Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jim Wade.

If it weren’t for the volunteer fire departments, when a forest fire broke out, the Division of Forestry would summon citizens to fight the fire. By law, the called citizens would be required to help extinguish the fire, and refusing to do so is a citable offense.

Sistersville Fire Chief, Jason Wayne, reported Sistersville has the largest probability of losing a structure due to a forest fire. Also a dispatcher, Wayne relayed the importance of providing correct and complete information when calling in an any emergency and to leaving a call back number in case of disconnection.

James Chapman, an employee of Carter Lumber and Assistant Chief at Shirley Volunteer Fire Department, is often the one in the Smokey the Bear costume. Carter Lumber generously donated the lumber used for the sign.

Wilson was quick to point out that these volunteer fire fighters are very community-based and volunteer in other ways where they are needed, as well. Wilson himself is also a fire fighter, and puts countless hours in fighting local fires, as well as traveling West to add manpower in other areas of the country.

It should be of utmost importance to the members of our community to take care of the volunteer fireman protecting our homes and families. This begins at fire prevention, obeying burning restrictions, being cautious, educating our children, and remembering that if not for them, it could be any of us called to help fight fires in our community.