BY TED SHOCKLEY, Shore First —
When the COVID-19 pandemic ended the Eastville Volunteer Fire Company’s fundraising projects, prospects looked dire for the organization, which was incorporated in 1931.
Prohibitions on gathering meant the fire company’s bingo nights and other events couldn’t be held.
But today, thanks to the Eastville Town Council, area residents, and the volunteers themselves, Station 17 is back on firm footing.
“We created a path to success,” said Bubba Frisby, the company’s president.
Like many in the company, Frisby will not take credit for any successes. He said many people helped the fire company with their hard work.
He cited an inscription on the cornerstone of the fire hall — “Of ourselves, we give,” it reads. The slogan also is on the fire company’s emblem.
One of the first successes was having the town of Eastville purchase the fire company’s bingo hall, once a furniture store. The proceeds were used to pay off the loan on a fire truck.
“We own 100 percent of this building and everything it in,” said Frisby.
Then the fire company reached an agreement with the Exmore Moose Lodge in Belle Haven, which needed to upgrade its bingo machine.
Eastville’s fire company no longer needed its modern bingo machine after selling its bingo hall, so it donated the equipment to the Moose Lodge.
In return, the company can have one fundraiser bingo at the Moose Lodge every three months and host signature events at the facility.
One of those events will be the fire company’s inaugural Poker Run and Car and Tractor Show on Saturday, April 29, at the Moose Lodge.
The poker run registration begins at 10:30 a.m. and the car and tractor show runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information on the event, visit the fire company’s Facebook page.
The cooperation continued when the town council decided to give the fire company almost $30,000 for air pack equipment. The company’s old equipment could no longer be certified.
“They came up in a time of need,” said Frisby of the town council.
“We could not afford to be in compliance and to keep our firefighters safe.”
The fire company also has several new officers and a successful outreach program coordinated by Lisa Brittingham. Two new members recently joined the company after participating in the outreach program.
Frisby, who is an oyster field operations manager for Cherrystone Aqua Farms, decided to become a volunteer almost 25 years ago after agonizing through a long ambulance wait for his child.
When told the delayed response was because of a lack of volunteers, Frisby volunteered the next day and began training.
Buck Doughty, the company’s vice president, joined after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.
“A lot of people are hesitant (to volunteer) because they don’t know if they have the time for it. You make the time you can give,” he said.
“There’s something nice about being part of something much bigger than you are,” he said.
Today, Frisby, Doughty, new Fire Chief Jason Brittingham and many others in the town and community are part of something bigger than themselves. They found a way to put a 93-year-old fire company on solid footing for years to come.