Firefighting and emergency services are a family affair in the Southard family. Bryan Southard has been a member of the Yadkinville Volunteer Fire Department for 25 years, and now he’s watching his children follow in his footsteps.
Southard is a Yadkin County native. He was raised on a farm, attended Yadkinville Elementary School and Forbush High School and has worked at Eveready Mix Concrete since 1984.
In 1986, Southard ventured into what would become his passion. He joined the Yadkinville Volunteer Fire Department.
“I went up through the ranks from firefighter to training officer to captain lieutenant to assistant chief and now I’m the fire chief,” Southard said. “I’ve been the fire chief for a little over eight years.”
Southard says that his job comes with a lot of responsibility. As fire chief he is responsible for attending local and state meetings to stay abreast of the latest changes in emergency services and firefighting policies and techniques.
“The state gives us information about changes that are going to happen six months or maybe a year from now so you can get more prepared for upcoming changes,” Southard said. “You can prepare your budget, the community or your department for those changes.”
Southard says that the most important part of his role as a rescue worker and fire chief is helping people in their hour of need.
Southard says that the department runs about 1,400 calls a year that are medical or fire related. Southard says that about 45 percent of the calls are medical and 55 percent are fires, wrecks, downed trees or power lines. He said that the department has even handled a cat in a tree before.
“[These calls are] always someone that needs help and there’s no one there that can help him or her,” Southard said. “When you need help and these people come to help you and it’s not costing you anything it does mean a whole lot.”
Southard said that his job can also be an emotionally trying one as well.
“Sometimes we can’t fix everything,” Southard said. “When you lose people it’s kind of hard to cope for a little bit but…someone has to be there with their family to tell them. Those are the tough things, going up to somebody and telling them that their family didn’t make it.”
Southard says that the Yadkinville Fire Department has fallen victim to the financial crisis that is affecting the rest of the country too.
“We’re taking in less money than we did eight years ago when we were running about 700 calls a year and that call volume has doubled and fuel prices have doubled and our money that we get in is less so it’s kind of tough,” Southard said.
Southard maintains that the reason the department is still able to run well is thanks to the members who give their time.
“What makes a great organization are the members of that organization working together,” Southard said. “The members of a fire department can really make the fire chief look good. When they do their jobs it is easier on the fire chief.”
A point of pride for Southard is watching his children follow in his footsteps. He and his wife of 24 years, have two children. His daughter and son both applied to be cadets for the department when they turned 14 years old.
Both of his children received “Cadet of the Year” awards.
“It makes you feel really good when your children get recognized,” Southard said.
When Southard is not busy rescuing the citizens of Yadkinville you can find him on the race track working as a spotter for his friends who race.
As spotter, Southard is responsible for being an extra pair of eyes that tell the driver when there’s a wreck or where other cars are on the track.
“My hobby is going to the racetrack and getting away from some of the stuff you have to do at home or at work and you meet new friends,” Southard said. “I’m standing up there with the handicap section and those people love the race too. If they pull for one of the driver’s that I’m spotting for then I try to get the driver to come up and talk to them or give them a shirt or a hat or something like that and that means a lot to me; helping people that are less fortunate than myself.”
Southard also likes being a part of his family church at Mitchell Chapel. Any given Sunday one may find Southard running the mixing board or singing in the choir.
“I think we have a great preacher, great choir director and great pianist and it’s just a great place to come to fellowship and great little community church,” Southard said.
Reach Lindsay Craven at 679-2341 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.