SHELBY — As a part-time paid firefighter for the city of Shelby, Kim Fletcher speaks highly of the experiences he's had serving the community through the years.
“I have been doing it almost 37 years,” Fletcher said in an interview.
He noted his service goes back to around 1983.
“It’s kind of in my family’s blood,” Fletcher said. “My father-in-law was a full-time firefighter for (many years). I got to know some of the guys who worked with him, and then some of the younger guys I became friends with all kind of joined together.”
Fletcher described the job title.
“Some people refer to us as volunteers, but a true volunteer firefighter, which there are (in) some departments around here, they don’t get paid,” Fletcher said. “We do get paid. But only when we respond.”
Fletcher, now 64, continues to enjoy his role, which has changed as the years have gone by.
“I don’t put on an airpack anymore,” he said. “I do a lot of things outside that older guys will know how to do. The younger guys, they put on the airpack and go into the fire. I used to.”
He said he can do “pretty much anything that needs doing outside” at a fire scene other than run a truck. “I don’t run the pumps,” he added.
Fletcher spoke of why the part-time paid firefighter positions are important and why people are needed for that role.
“Serving the community,” he said. “There’s a camaraderie or a brotherhood of people that when you get into that profession or into that field, most people run away from a fire. We have been trained to run to it. You have a brotherhood to back you up, who will be with you thick and thin forever. “