Jefferson VFD to host BBQ on Oct. 3

The meat for Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department's barbecue is cooked over a bed of hickory coals all day and all night by members of the department. Pictured left to right are Buddy Lindsay, Chief George Norris, Tom Whitaker, Bobby Lynch, Tim Day, Assistant Chief Joe Coats, Brent King, and Dave Compton.

The meat for Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department’s barbecue is cooked over a bed of hickory coals all day and all night by members of the department. Pictured left to right are Buddy Lindsay, Chief George Norris, Tom Whitaker, Bobby Lynch, Tim Day, Assistant Chief Joe Coats, Brent King, and Dave Compton.

Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department will host its annual barbecue on Saturday, Oct. 3, at Jefferson Community Club. Barbecue by the pound will be available beginning at 9 a.m. Visitors can get to-go plates or dine in from 10:30 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The cost is $9 per pound or per plate, which includes barbecue, homemade potato salad and cake, bread, and pickles. The barbecue is cooked over hickory coals at the Club’s onsite barbecue pit by members of the volunteer fire department. Pints of their signature sauce will be available for $3.

The event is the department’s primary fundraiser, aiding the group in maintenance and upgrades to their equipment and facility, which is located next door to Jefferson Community Club. The fleet includes four trucks used to service the community–a service truck, brush truck, engine, and tanker.

Some of Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department's volunteers participate in a water drafting exercise.

Some of Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department’s volunteers participate in a water drafting exercise.

“Our barbecue has been a tremendous help to us over the years,” said JVFD Chief George Norris. “The funds we raise at this event help us do some of the things that we might not be able to do with only restricted funds that are allocated to us. It takes a lot of money and time to maintain a fire department, partly because of all of the equipment that’s required for us to not only pass inspection but to strive for a rating that helps ensure that our neighbors can see the positive results of fire protection when it comes time to pay their property insurance premiums.”

JVFD’s coverage area includes not only the immediate five-mile stretch adjacent to the station, but also mileage of highway 80 west as far as Plaza Golf Carts in Demopolis, County Roads 21 and 57, Rangeline Road, and dozens of dirt roads throughout the community. The department is manned entirely by volunteers.

“Everything we do is a commitment of time from our volunteers, a true commitment,” Norris said. “Our volunteers don’t just show up when we’re paged, fight a fire, then go home. We have a dedicated group of individuals who train several hours each month, keep our facility and trucks clean, perform maintenance, paint and keep the grass and brush clear around nearly 70 hydrants along the roadsides, and all of the other logistics that have to be in line for us to operate.”

Combining all of these efforts, Jefferson VFD volunteers commit nearly 2,000 man hours each year. That’s likely a modest estimate. But their work is necessary.

“Our department was established in 1986 after several properties in our community were lost to fire,” Norris said. “We’re not going to prevent every fire from happening, but we can help provide a sense of security and an awareness for safety when incidents occur. We’ve put an extra emphasis on outreach and fire prevention in the last couple of years, and we hope that every little thing we do to show people how they can be safe will help them if they’re ever involved with a fire or accident that could lead to a fire.”

Jefferson has a small population, but the broad area is literally a map of some of the county’s best pasture land and timber. A high percentage of JVFD’s calls are for brush fires, so controlling the fire safely before allowing it to overcome a property or reach a structure is usually the top priority.

“Fire protection, especially for volunteer fire departments, might seem like it used to be a matter of putting water on a flame, but so many factors have changed it over the years,” Norris said. “Making way for every safety measure we can changes the system. More money has to be spent on safety equipment, more hours need to be dedicated to training than ever before, and we have to keep all of these things in mind while we do the things that before may have seemed like such basic steps. We’re fortunate to have people who are committed to giving what it takes.”

To support Jefferson Volunteer Fire Department, make plans to attend their annual barbecue on Saturday, Oct. 3. For more information, contact a member of the department, follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JeffersonVolunteerFireDepartment, or email JeffersonVFDept@gmail.com.