An Avon saleswoman and a neighbor are where the story begins for Ralph Roeland and his years of service to his local fire department.

When Ralph retired from the Marine Corps, his wife's friend sold Avon, and her husband was one of the first assistant chiefs for the Township Six Fire Department, which is now located near Carolina Pines. Ralph started going to the department with his neighbor, and he says he has been with the fire department since August of 1972. Ralph has spent time as the chief for 10 years, and he is currently the vice-president of the volunteer fire department.

"We need people because of the active duty military we get, our people are in and out all the time," Ralph said.

The volunteer fire department consists of men and women who donate their time to train and help in emergency situations. The work of the volunteers has helped the department secure an excellent rating, which lowers costs for nearby residents.

"So anyone living close to us or our substation they get a little bit better rating on their fire insurance," Ralph said.

Ralph said his work with the department, with the help of the president who is also his wife, is being tight-fisted with tax dollars and gather and save money to buy the necessary fire equipment, which is often very expensive. Everyone in the department has full gear, and there's a new truck on order that close to $400,000 and another $50,000 to $60,000 in equipment that will need to be added to it.

"We buy what is necessary and what is needed," Ralph said. "We aren't out here playing this, that and the next thing."

Ralph jokingly said he keeps volunteering because he's looking for a pay raise and he hasn't found it yet.

For anyone who wants to get involved, learn more about the Township Six Fire Department and potentially volunteer, join Ralph on Thursday nights at 7 p.m. at 109 Carolina Pines Blvd. or call 252-447-2700.

"We need people," Ralph said. "I wish we could get more people interested because a lot of people we have in this area are retired like me."