Award winning firefighters at MVFD
The Marlinton Volunteer Fire Department is comprised of men and women from all walks of life, but the one thing they have in common is their commitment to helping out in the community, and for many of them, it's a family tradition.
Fire chief Herby Barlow has held his position for nearly a year now, but he's been with the department since he joined as a junior firefighter at the age of 14. Barlow grew up in the house next door to the fire station, and it was his father Richard Barlow that got him involved.
"My dad was a firefighter and rescue chief here up until he died," said Barlow. "A lot of us here, our parents were involved with the department before we were. That's the way a lot of us got started. Once you get started in it, you can't get it out of your system."
Barlow said the folks at the MVFD are dedicated to helping others, and he's proud to work with one of the best squads in the state.
"We try to stay active in the community the best we can," he said. "I think we've got one of the best volunteer departments in the state. I travel around at my job and I see a lot of departments. We've got top of the line equipment, great guys and years and years of experience."
For firefighter Adam Irvine, it's a similar story. Barlow said Irvine's dad was a firefighter/EMT for years at the squad, and Irvine is always there when a call comes in.
"He's a very active, aggressive firefighter," remarked Barlow. "He does a great job. He's always here. Early on when he started, he was in college. He'd go to school during the week, come home on weekends and help out."
Earlier this year, Irvine won first place in the West Virginia State Firefighter Challenge at Webster Springs. This is actually Irvine's fourth time winning first place in the competition, and he's set two different state records since he started competing five years ago.
Irvine, now 25, joined the Marlinton Volunteer Fire Department when he turned 18, and he's been there ever since. He also helps out at Shavers Fork in the winter, when he has the time.
Irvine faced off against six competitors in the individual event, and he was the only firefighter representing Pocahontas County. Irvine said the competitors come from all across the state and, in years past, there's been a lot more firefighters he's been pitted against.
"It's ranged from twenty or so to- the one year I broke the record, there were fifty-five," Irvine said.
Irvine's state record was timed at 50:03 seconds in the challenge - the next closest contender was 17 seconds behind.
Irvine said there's two separate events, a team event - four firefighters to a team, and an individual event. He competed in both. No other firefighters from Marlinton competed this year, so Irvine ran with the Hillsboro team- they placed second.
"One guy runs up a flight of steps and pulls up a rolled-up inch-and-three-quarter hose," Irvine explained. "He comes back down and tags another guy who drives a piece of flat steel about three or four feet - hammering between your legs. He tags another guy who picks up a charged hose line, drags it fifty feet or so, and knocks over a cone. That guy tags another guy who pulls a 160 pound dummy about fifty feet."
Irvine said in the individual event, each firefighter does all the stages himself, wearing a full set of gear.
"All the gear, probably weighs about sixty or seventy pounds," Irvine estimated.
In addition to being a firefighter, Irvine took on another role this summer when he and Sarah Shearer married on June 16.
"It's been a good year for me I guess," Irvine said.