Grifton Volunteer Fire Department
 
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MEMBERSHIP               HISTORY               THE PRESENT               THE FUTURE
 

            

     Our Members

 
     Our members come from all walks of life.  Our department includes volunteers from the following professions:  business owner, college instructor, bus driver, custodian, insurance executive, highway worker, career firefighters, contract administrator, laborer, payroll accountant, mechanic, nurse, plumber, auto body repairmen, store manager, sheriff's deputy, contractor, carpenter, and more. Department membership is open to anyone (male or female) over the age of 18, having good health and intelligence. Laws of the State of North Carolina require that members be residents of, or regularly employed in, the area we serve.  Click here to join GVFD.
 
               
 
      Our History

In 1952 the town of Grifton recognized the need for an effective system of fire protection. Under the direction of Mayor Roger B. Johnson, the Grifton Volunteer Fire Department was then founded and organized. Mayor Johnson appointed George G. Suggs the Leading Officer of the organization. There were a total of twenty original members.   The original Fire Department served the Grifton Community and its surrounding area with a 1953 Chevrolet pumper. Then in 1958 the Grifton Rural Community Fire Association was formed to help supply the needs of the Rural Community. At this time they purchased a 1958 tanker, which was greatly needed to haul water to a fire scene. With this goal in mind the Rural Association, who is governed by a group of twelve Directors of the Pitt and Lenoir County Rural area of Grifton, purchased a fire truck.  

 In 1985, the Town of Grifton purchased a building and a parcel of land to house a new fire department. Its members provided labor and fund-raisers to help complete the renovation of the building. They moved into their new quarters in early 1986.

Contrary to the old cliché of “PUTTING THE WET STUFF ON THE RED STUFF”, firefighters need more than just a hose line and water to fight fires. Realizing this need, the department purchased a pickup to carry other types of special equipment. As time progresses, so does the need for more equipment. We now carry our own air system to fill air pack bottles, and we have added two hydraulic rescue tools (like the Jaws of Life) and a set of rescue rams to help pull the dash and steering wheel away from people in automobile accidents.

 In 1988 a four-wheel drive military jeep was purchased to assist in fighting fires that were off-road such as brush fires and woods fires. This gave the Department the capability to assist in fighting a forest fire until the Forestry Service arrives. Sometimes even extinguishing the fire before the Service arrived, freeing up the Service for another call if needed. In 1990 the Department replaced this unit with a 1986 F-350 Ford Dually pickup truck. The current members of the Fire Department spent a lot of their own personal time to make this pickup into a fire fighting off-road unit. This unit was able to handle more weight than the old truck.

 In 1997 the department was able to ask for a fire district tax referendum to be voted on and was successful. This was a great need as the needs and expenses to operate the department increased. Today’s fire equipment is very modern and expensive, and fundraisers and donations were no longer enough to adequately support the demand for fire protection. This has been a great help to support our needs, however we still have fundraisers to help keep the tax rate as low as possible for our citizens and community.  

 State regulations require that all firefighters accumulate thirty-six hours of training each year. Of course the Department encourages as much additional training as possible. For instance, in 1986, the Department had eleven members become certified as First Responders. This allows persons first on the scene to initiate a basic level of emergency medical care to those injured in an accident or fire.

 The Grifton Volunteer Fire Department is a member of the Pitt and Lenoir County Fire Associations, The N.C. State Fireman’s Association, and participates in mutual aid responses to neighboring departments in Pitt, Lenoir, and Craven counties.

Hurricane Floyd: In September of 1999 the community of Grifton and vast surrounding areas were struck by the devastation of hurricane Floyd. The whole community was flooded for several days. This included our own fire station. We lost much equipment during this time, but it could have been much worse. Members were quick to move as much equipment out as possible as the quickly rising waters encroached on the station. All rolling equipment was saved. There was a total of approximately four and a half feet of water inside the building. We were displaced to a rented building just outside of town for over a year while our department was being rebuilt.

 
    
      The Present
 

Presently we have overcome many obstacles, and we are striving to protect and serve our community better than ever. We moved back into our new station in Jan. 2001 and are continuing to update equipment. 

We are also proud to be the first volunteer department in the county to acquire a Thermal Imaging Camera. This camera, taken into a smoke filled building, will enable firefighters to literally see through the smoke, allowing them to see a person solely by his body temperature. This piece of equipment was purchased almost entirely with funds from a $12,000 grant applied for by a young lady from Grifton, Teresa Brozowski, who applied for this grant as a school project for her Political Science class. We feel she has a bright future in this field.

  With the purchase of a new heavy rescue vehicle and the height constraints on it, we also had to explore the feasibility of a new building because the new truck would not fit into the old building. So the Grifton Community Fire Association went across the street and purchased a piece of property to build a new building on. This was a twofold project as when we took possession of the new heavy rescue vehicle we had to have quarters to put it in. So we went to work planning a new building, still utilizing the old building to keep most of the trucks in with meeting room, offices and kitchen. The new building is used to house other equipment such as a 16 foot wide body aluminum boat which we use for river rescue...we obtained this boat from the Federal Surplus Property Agency and refurbished it to meet our specifications.

This building also houses the Pitt County Fireman’s Association fire education smoke house trailer used at area schools and other functions throughout the county to educate young children about fire safety. It also houses a tool room, small equipment room, storage room for tables and chairs, and an exercise and weight room that we were able to equip with the help of a local grant.

  Each year the department participates in the festivities of the Grifton Shad Festival.The members of the department fry fish for everyone to enjoy. This is just one of the fund-raisers the department participates in. We also hold an annual “FIREMANS DAY” each fall. During this event we hold a car show using sponsors to help with the expenses. We started this in 2001 and it has been a great success.

 In 2003 we began doing a fund raiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association called the Fill the Boot Campaign. In this event teams of firefighters fan out to different intersections and shopping areas and ask for donations to be placed in a fire boot. All of these funds go directly to the M.D.A. It is not uncommon to raise $1500.00 to $2500.00 for this worthy cause.

 Fire prevention is a part of everyone’s life. A major part of that is in education. So the department is active in educating the local schools in fire prevention. The best way to extinguish a fire is to prevent it from starting.

 There are currently over 40 members on the department’s roster. Each one of these members can be proud of the progress the department has made since 1952. They are always charging ahead to meet the ongoing changes and needs in fire protection. Being a part of the protection of friends, loved ones, and neighbors is one of their biggest achievements in life, and the support of the community is like “icing on the cake”.

 
   
     The Future
 
  No one knows what the future holds but it will always need fire protection and emergency services support. The Grifton Volunteer Fire Department will always strive to update fire protection before we need it and be ready for that call for help with ample resources available to us. We have done this in a timely and resourceful manner as to best serve our community as economically as possible.  We will also continue to lower our I.S.O. rating to further save taxpayers money by lower insurance rates. Thanks to our members and community support, this will always be an ongoing venture.

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