The primary goal is to get the 26 volunteer members listed as registered firefighters. The state has different levels of firefighting and a volunteer is considered registered.
A minimum requirement for volunteers is a controlled structure fire or burn. An additional criterion is required before they can become nationally registered.
Reaching these goals requires intensive training and Aragon’s department now reports on Thursday nights and about five hours on Saturdays.
Assistant Chief Justin Barrett has assumed responsibility for helping rebuild the department.
A firefighter since 1996, he is also a full time paramedic for Paulding County.
“I came to Aragon because of my desire to help these volunteers,” he said. “One of the first things I told these men is that we will train like we are paid. A fire does not care whether you are paid or a volunteer.”
Captain Michael Long said it is not easy showing up on Saturdays. “I do it because I want to improve my skills. Training helps increase our knowledge and keeps us safe.”
Barrett pointed that once a volunteer receives national certification, he or she can make a lateral move into a paid fire department.
The department has also set a goal to increase the ISO rate in Aragon from 6 to 4. However, members agree that there is a lengthy list before this can be achieved.
“We want this department to be so good that the citizens will come here and one day decides that Aragon needs a paid fire department,” Barrett said. “I know it is the future, but my hope that it will be a reality somewhere down the line.”
He admitted that the department needs structural firefighting gear and announced that Paulding County has donated seven sets.
“Without proper gear, it is not safe for a firefighter,” he said.
He hopes to see every member in the department fitted with proper equipment – whether through a grant, fundraisers or donations.
As part of the reorganization, plans are to visit local businesses and industry to promote fire safety.
“We want to make each owner or manager more aware of how they can protect their property,” Barrett said.
Plans are host a public safety awareness day in late summer and invite local citizens.
Nationally recognized vendors have been invited to attend. According to Barrett, he has talked with company representatives and several have said they will provide products, which could be distributed without cost to the public.
“I would love to have more people come and be a part of this department,” Barrett said. “We also need a support group that would be available for events.”
Aragon Mayor Brenda Gazaway has promised support for efforts made by the volunteers.
“We recognize the dangers you and our police officers face when you do your job,” she informed Barrett. “I know it isn’t easy to leave your families when there is a fire, tornado or other disaster.”