Fire department goes extra mile to help young volunteers
By Janet Storm
The Daily Reflector
Monday, April 15, 2019
Volunteer firefighters know a lot about devotion to duty and service to the community.
Even so, some efforts stand apart.
After finding out one of their young volunteers was walking more than two miles to get to the fire station, members of the Red Oak Community Rural Fire Department decided to make the trip a little easier for him and his younger brother.
The two brothers, Isaiah and Jordan Prophet, were presented with new bicycles and safety gear during the station’s monthly business meeting. Newly appointed Pitt County Commissioner Lauren Spain White joined the effort and helped make the presentation.
Deputy Chief Chad Singleton said the brothers have been volunteering at the station for about a year and a half.
“They both attended South Central High School,” Singleton said. “They heard about (volunteer opportunities) from a friend and really wanted to join the department.”
After making contact with the boys’ mother, Singleton learned that Isaiah and Jordan were part of the school’s ROTC program and hoped to join the military, but wanted to serve at the station in the meantime.
“They are very humble guys,” Singleton said. “They could be out playing basketball or hanging out with friends and they choose to volunteer and serve their community.”
The brothers are not certified, so they cannot go out on fire calls, Singleton said. Instead they take part in training, wash the firetrucks and do other chores around the station.
When they first started, Isaiah and Jordan would take the bus from school to the station. But after Isaiah graduated from high school, he began to make the trek on foot, Singleton said.
“One day I saw Isaiah at the station and I noticed he was sweating a bit,” Singleton said. “I asked him if he was all right and he said yes. When I asked why he was sweating, he said, ‘I just ran up here.’”
“You mean you ran here from home?” Singleton asked.
“Yes sir, I walked and I ran some,” Isaiah said.
Singleton discovered that the teen had been making the daily journey for about eight months.
“That weighed heavy on my heart,” Singleton said. “It tugged on my heartstrings.”
Singleton’s first idea was to allow Isaiah to use his old truck, but he learned the teen did not have a driver’s license. So he called the station’s chief, George Darden, with another idea — buy the Prophet brothers some bikes.
“The chief liked the idea and he said we should pass the hat to make it happen,” Singleton said.
An email was sent to members of the department and the response was enthusiastic.
“It was short turnaround,” Singleton said. “We got the bikes and since we’re all about safety here at the fire station, we also got them some safety equipment — flashing lights and helmets.”
The station decided to make the presentation at its business meeting, which White already had planned to attend. When she heard about the presentation, White said she wanted to be involved.
The firefighters hid the bikes behind a tanker truck and rolled them out as everyone was posing for a photo with White.
Singleton said the boys were surprised and happy about the gift.
“I think I may have seen a tear shed,” he said.
Seeing their joy was rewarding, Singleton said.
“These boys are so dedicated,” he said. “They are at the station every day. I think they were seeking a family environment.
“They found that here.”