By Kritika Bharadwaj
Holt Journal staff writer
“I have been a Fire Chief for 11 years now and I feel that we need to be part of our community and not just when someone gets a heart attack or breaks a leg,” said Rick Royston. The Delhi Township Fire Department experienced a busy past year with 2,324 calls, not all of which, Royston said, were fires.
In winter, though, “we have a lot of accidental heating type of fires this type of the year. The wood dries out and burns the fireplaces,” he said.
Although the department saves lives and extinguishes fires, it also plays the role of family to the community. When asked who came up with the idea of a Facebook page for the department, Royston replied, “I did.”
“It was different with the website we had, because the township clerk made changes to it, but the updates were always a week old. Facebook can add updates very quickly and gives people the opportunity to give feedback. We get about 3-400 visits a day,” Royston stated excitedly.
With 55 people who like their page, the fire department has truly made its presence known within the community. Wall posts range from monthly reports, photos and videos of houses on fire to something as joyous as the birth of a baby within a firefighter’s family.
Apart from daily activities like morning debriefing and calls for the day, firefighters also visit schools and organize tours for children to come into the department. “We show them the apparatus. Activities are usually organized depending on their age. We teach them basic stuff like stop, drop and roll, when to call 911, when not to call 911,” said firefighter and paramedic Dustin Dickerson.
Meals on Wheels also brings community together
The fire department’s mission is to minimize the impact of community emergencies through education, prevention and service. While both prevention and education are two tasks the department is tirelessly involved in, the service part seems to have been equally rewarding. In addition to the creation of a Facebook page, the chief was responsible, according to Dickerson, for the Meals and Wheels event.
“Meals and Wheels is a nonprofit organization. They prepare the meals, we just provide them. Old people who can’t get out of their homes or can’t cook food, we then deliver them food,” said Dickerson. Royston agrees. “Elderly people love them for doing that. It keeps them involved in the community.”
Recently, the department received a grant for $87,000. Apart from having access to new equipment like defibrillators, Royston says, the firefighters have been able to install two new CPR machines. “In the past, we’ve installed 50 new defibrillators in churches and schools and trained people in those places. We’re hoping to become closer to the community,” he added