Every Monday night, the 12 volunteers for North Hero Fire Department make sure they know exactly what to do when you call for help.
“We’re pretty tight knit community so, helping others is what it’s all about,” says Chief Michael Murdock.
Born and raised in this small Grand Isle County town, Chief Murdock is no stranger to the department he now leads. He joined the ranks at 19.
“I grew up next to the fire station down in the village and I would always see the trucks coming and going,” says Murdock.
That station in the village still stands today, pushing 71 years old. It’s the original fire station for these volunteers. Chief Murdock says eventually, it will be turned over to the North Hero Historical Society.
“In ’47, my grandfather was actually one of the founding members,” Murdock adds.
Their equipment is beginning to show its age.
“The most prominent thing we need to replace is our airpack inventory,” says Murdock. “The bottles have a 15 year life, so we’re looking to replace all 24.”
“Packs themselves are probably 3 to 4 years out,” Murdock says. “The second thing is our 30 year old tanker.”
They need a bigger station too. That process has been in the works for about three years.
“What we’re in now is about 4,000 square feet and we do share it with Public Works,” says Murdock.
No word yet on the cost. Chief says it’ll be another couple of years before the new station is finished, and it’ll be their own.
“We did hire an architect to do our building and we’re in that phase now,” says Murdock. “It’ll be just under 7,000 square feet.”
In the meantime, recruitment continues to dwindle.
“The most volunteers we’ve had is 24,” says Murdock. “During the day, it’s quite slim because people are off island working, so we’re mutual aid with the surrounding towns.”
Despite this setback that’s a common road block for small stations cross the region, these volunteers have no shortage of passion.
“To me, community service is a great thing,” says 1st Assistant Chief Jim Benson. “Everyone should volunteer to do something and this is a great way to do that.”
“I hope people will look at me and people in other departments and say I’d really like to try it and take it the next step,” says 2nd Assistant Chief Chris Retz.
Chief Murdock adds he hopes to have 12 airpacks replaced by January 1. He’s still waiting for a quote on cost.
You can help the department pay for this replacement by attending its fall roast beef supper tomorrow. This is one of two suppers the station has annually, both their biggest fundraisers of the year. Head to North Hero Elementary School at 430. For more information, click here.