ROCK CAVE — Fire Departments throughout the county continue to battle low volunteer numbers while some also struggle with naysayers from surrounding communities.
Located at 260 Rock Cave Road in Rock Cave, WV, Banks District Volunteer Fire Department proudly serves their own community and beyond. The department stays busy with not only their volunteer fire service, but also the Banks District EMS service as well. Although Banks District VFD houses multiple EMS vehicles, the station is staffed as transportation only with 911 capabilities. Due to the contract already in place with the Upshur County Commission and Upshur County EMS, those rigs not called for emergency-related events can be requested by other EMS agencies.
Being a volunteer in the fire department can describe many different positions. Auxiliary members are often just as important as volunteer firefighters by fulfilling other crucial roles. Members of the auxiliary assist with fundraisers and gladly fill in wherever the need may be.
Volunteering is the definition of importance within communities. It can be the difference between saving a life or not. Currently within Banks District VFD, there are 16 active firefighters. Requirements to become a volunteer for this department are to live in the area and to simply be willing to help. Being a fire department volunteer is also not confined to one gender; there are many female volunteers within multiple departments.
“The men treat me well. It’s like a family—we are just a bunch of brothers and sisters,” said volunteer Lisa Hissam.
“You are needed in this community,” EMS Chief John Roby emphasized. “We need volunteers—we need you.”
The current Banks District VFD Chief is Tim Hissam, who has been volunteering from a very young age. Board members include Steve Linger, Board President/Assistant Director of EMS/Chaplain; Lisa Hissam, Treasurer; Debra Roby, Secretary; John Roby, EMS Chief; Bob Hissam, Vice President; Kenny Burnside, EMS Captain; and Ryan Fallon, EMS Lieutenant.
At their last meeting, three new members were unanimously approved for a six-month probationary period. These new volunteers, just like many other members, often hold daytime jobs to support their families. For example, Lisa Hissam also works at the West Virginia State Wildlife Center, while Debra Roby works at St. Joseph’s Hospital. Volunteering is so important to them, that in addition to their regular jobs, being a contributing member of the Banks District VFD is a huge part of day-to-day life.
Along with other sources of income that support the needs of the firehouse, Station 4 also hosts many fundraisers within the community. Most often, dinners are hosted to raise funds for the department. Even though adequate funding for volunteer fire departments is lacking, Station 4 continues to offer support to its community in every way possible.
After most of the toys stockpiled for the B-U Christmas Store were recently stolen, the department wanted to do their part to help raise funds to replace the gifts for children in need. The station hosted a photographer who took photos to raise funds. The packages for the photos sold for $10 and were used directly for the Christmas Store along with donations. “This directly helped the children in our area,” Linger expressed.
If anyone is interested in being part of something very rewarding and beneficial to the community, please contact the firehouse at (304) 924-6864 or message the Banks District Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page with any questions or to request an application.
“Firefighters save more than homes. They save hearts, memories, and dreams.” — Unknown