CANA — The Cana Volunteer Fire Department’s 50th Anniversary is best described by members as a celebration of where the group has been and where it’s going. It’s also a way for the community to see what its donations have helped make possible.
The event is slated for Nov. 7 from 1-5 p.m. at Station 1 on 391 Fire House Road. The public is welcome with participants invited to try on fire gear (including air packs), witness fire equipment demonstrations, and enjoy light refreshments. A bounce house, shaped like a fire engine, and other activities for children will be offered.
Longtime member Don Marsh and Porter Ayers, who was one of the founding members of the group, said talk about establishing a department began around 1964 with the department officially organized a year later. Marsh and Ayers explained the effect of geography of the area on response time from Hillsville greatly influenced the decision for a local department.
Ayers said the department’s first fire truck came from the Hillsville fire company. Longstanding traditions among Cana firefighters, like community service being passed on between generations, was tied to strong community support from the beginning. It continues today.
Marsh is the son of the late M.C. Marsh, who served as the first fire chief of the department and logged 25 years in the CVFD. Initially, the department received 12 sets of turnout gear with its first truck. Firemen got to use the gear on a first-come, first-served basis as they answered calls.
Marsh said the first alarms for the company consisted of 10 telephones rigged to ring at the same time. Firemen’s wives often manned the phones after the initial alarm, getting the word out to the other members not on call in the station house. Wanda Ayers said wives and volunteers later became the company’s auxiliary and have always served as backup for the volunteers, serving sandwiches and whatever else was required.
A group which included Fire Chief Richard Sowers and Assistant Chief Sam Simmons, Wanda Ayers and Barry Ayers recalled how financial support from Carroll County has always been supplemented by a variety of fundraisers including turkey shoots, rummage sales, Rook tournaments, pancake suppers and door-to-door campaigns. Everyone agreed support from the community has always been strong.
“We had a womanless beauty pageant once. Some of them wanted to take me to Odell’s afterwards to pick up girls but I wouldn’t go,” said Don Marsh. “It was a lot of fun and it was hard to find size 12 heels, let me tell you.”
Sowers and Simmons agreed while the dedication to local families has remained constant, recent lifestyle changes and the increasing amount of time required to train volunteers continues to take a toll on upcoming generations of smoke eaters. Marsh and Porter Ayers explained the forerunners of the Cana Rescue Squad, which later split off from the department, were supplied by Moody’s Funeral Home. The department boasted a roster of 50 men and 18 trucks.
According to Sowers, the department now has four substations (in Cana, on Exit 1, Mount Bethel and at Cascade) with 33 members. The substation at Exit 1 was constructed entirely with donations. Marsh said the community has also been there when the department needed help, often contributing free labor and materials.
“We want to keep on getting better and upgrading as we go,” said fireman Charles Busick.
Brayden Ayers said he is looking to become a third generation of his family in the department when he turns 13 and can become a junior fireman. Marsh said he became a fireman when he was 17, inspired by his father. Sowers said the department is always interested in new volunteers.
Teens age 13-years through 18-years may serve as junior fireman. Persons may obtain more information on the celebration and the department at [email protected]
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on [email protected]