DERBY — Two longtime volunteer firemen were awarded for their service Saturday while celebrating the 40th anniversary of the department they helped start.
Jim Lambeth and Brion Richardson — charter members of the Derby Volunteer Fire Department, founded in 1983 — were presented with the Order of the Guardian by Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey.
The award is the highest honor presented by the N.C. Department of Insurance. The commissioner also serves as the state fire marshal.
Causey told the crowd that the fire service across the state is in the best shape it’s ever been in: “We lead the nation in quality fire departments.”Click here to read more about local allocations.
The Derby department currently has 25 members serving a six-mile response area north of Hoffman, near both the Montgomery and Moore county lines. The response area has about 700 residents, according to Chief David Poland.
Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson also made the trip down for the event.
Robinson relayed a story of how one night he and his brother were in the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant and heard a siren blaring from a first responder vehicle.
“When we heard that siren out in the distance, I said, ‘Oh lord … that’s a bad sound.’ And he said, ‘No it’s not … that’s a good sound.’
“And I said, ‘Why in the world would you say that’s a good sound?’
“And he said, ‘Because, that’s the sound of somebody going to somebody’s aid … We’re sittin’ here in this line about to get some food and we don’t have to run off and go down the road and see about that person. Some stranger has gotten into a vehicle … and they’re headed off down the road to trouble to meet somebody at possibly their worst time in their life to give them assistance.’
“And everytime since then, when I hear a siren, that’s what I think — I think that’s the sound of help. That’s the sound of rescue. That’s the sound of that stranger that loves his or her community … to possibly head into danger themself to try to help somebody else.”
Robinson congratulated the department on its anniversary and said, if elected as governor, “I’ll make sure that we give you everything that you need to succeed — because you’re first, not last.”
“The first people we need to consider are those who put their lives on the line in service every day …they do great work,” Robinson said, referring to law enforcement, fire departments, rescue and even telecommunicators.
Poland presented Causey and Robinson both with shirts and certificates naming them honorary members of the Derby department.
The crowd also heard from Allen Mashburn, a Moore County pastor running for lieutenant governor.
Other politicos in the crowd included Rep. Ben Moss, R-Richmond, Sen. Dave Craven, R-Randolph, Sheriff Mark Gulledge, County Commissioner Andy Grooms, and Ellerbe Councilman Jeremy McKenzie.
The event also included: a bounce house; a home fire simulation trailer; vehicles from the N.C. Forest Service, Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Army National Guard in Raeford; a truck from the Montgomery Community College fire program; a helicopter from UNC Medical Center; and K-9s from nearby K2 Solutions.
Free barbecue sandwiches were available and Puckered Up Lemonade was also on site. Music was provided by regional country cover band Dark Horse. Singer and guitarist Frankie Moree spent three decades in the fire service, including with the Rockingham Fire Department and as fire marshal in Fayetteville.
Causey has been to Richmond County several times since being elected.
In 2021, the commissioner attended the 30th anniversary of the tragic Imperial Foods fire in Hamlet.
Causey returned in 2022 to present the Rockingham Fire Department with its rating increase, making it one of around 60 of 1,200 across the state to have a rating of 2 or higher.
Richmond County’s volunteer fire departments were allotted a combined $100,000 from the recently passed state budget.
See more photos below.