Manila proud of volunteer firemen

Thursday, July 3, 2003

In larger cities firemen are salaried employees, but in the rural towns, such as Manila, firemen are volunteers. They all have one thing in common, their dedication to the communities they serve.

The Manila fire department has 25 volunteers.

"We have got some good young men on the fire department. They take their training seriously and do a good job. We are proud of them. They train for all situations and sometimes things that happen are not easy to deal with. We recently got a 1 a.m. call to a house fire on Clarence Street.

"The sound of glass breaking woke up a neighbor that called in the report. It was soon discovered that there was a person trapped inside," Chief Don Nunnally said.

Manila Police Officer Steve Lancaster was first to arrive on the scene and immediately called for help. Part-time Officer Darrell Johnson arrived along with the first two firemen, Keith Bennett and Woody Nunnally. Nunnally arrived with the fire truck and Bennett in his vehicle at the same time.

The officers and Bennett had gone in to try to pull the victim from the house but had to come out because of the heavy smoke. Nunnally got the fire hose going and sprayed the fire while Bennett and Johnson went in and pulled the victim out of the burning house. Medic I was on hand and a helicopter was called in to airlift the victim to the Med in Memphis. He was badly burned, and unfortunately he died after arriving at the hospital.

Chief Nunnally said they had the victim out and the fire knocked down in 10 minutes.

"They did what they were trained to do," he said.

"It was a group effort," Firemen Bennett said.

Nineteen of the 25 fire fighters were on hand.

Longtime Manila fireman Carroll Towell said he was very proud of the two young men (Bennett and Nunnally) who showed a lot of bravery putting themselves out front.

"No one had to tell them what to do. They were there and did the best they could do to save a life. We have a great group of young firemen coming up behind us. They are the future of Manila's Fire Department. I am proud of all of our young men," Towell said. "They are all very dedicated."

Woody Nunnally has been around fire stations and training all his life, accompanying his father who has been a fireman for as long as he can remember. Becoming a fire fighter seemed like the natural thing for him to do.

Bennett has been on the fire department for three years. He attended EMT School. He grew up wanting to be a fire fighter from the time he saw his first fire truck.

"The Manila firemen have taught me a whole lot since I have been here," Bennett said. "I have learned from their experiences."

Bennett hopes to someday be a full time fireman.

Chief Nunnally pointed out the importance of keeping smoke detectors in place and checking them on a regular basis.

Bennett added that it is important for people to know that if they are in a smoke filled building, they should get low and crawl to the nearest exit.

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