Dustin Casey: Burkville Fire Chief

Published 8:01 am Wednesday, November 15, 2023

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Dustin Casey has been feeding his passion for firefighting since 1999 when he began volunteering with the Pintlala Volunteer Fire Department. Today he serves as the chief of the Burkville Fire Department where he has served Lowndes County residents since 2004.

According to Casey there are many reasons why he chooses to volunteer with the department, but the most pressing is his dedication to serving his neighbors.

“The biggest reason I do it is to help my neighbors, this goes for the other members of Burkville also,” Casey said. “If I don’t do it, who will? We are in a rural county where we are limited on resources and manpower when it comes to emergencies. We are usually called when our neighbors are having a bad day and we are glad to be able to help them in their time of need. When we go to calls around here we usually know them and that makes it more personal! If we don’t go, help could be a long time coming!”

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Casey stepped into his position as chief after the founding chief of the department, Lamar Hall, retired. The current chief said the environment Hall created within the department paved the way for the most pleasurable part of being a Burkville fireman.

“My favorite part of the fire department is working with a good group of people,” Casey said. “Chief Hall passed away but left us with a very good foundation. He treated us like family and that is carried on by the members today. It truly is a brotherhood where we look after each other and have each other’s back.”

Casey acknowledged that his profession can sometimes carry an emotional weight which has proven to be the most difficult part of his position.

“Volunteers may not have as much training as full time departments but that doesn’t mean we don’t go through the same things that they do,” Casey said. “The fire is just as hot, we still deal with seriously injured, dying or deceased patients just as they do. We see things that most people will never see in their lifetime and we cannot unsee them or get the sounds out of our heads.”

While the main purpose of the Burkville Fire Department is to protect Lowndes County residents by extinguishing rising flames, the individuals who volunteer with the department perform duties that far surpass that. According to Casey, most of the calls received by the department are for medical related emergencies, which has prompted a vast majority of the department’s volunteers to become CPR certified as well as go through some form of medical training such as becoming Emergency Medical Technicians.

Casey said that to him, the title of ‘chief’ is only just that- a title.

“I am part of a team that gives of their time and safety to be there for others,” Casey expressed. “We put ourselves out there for people that are grateful and for the ones who are not. We are always looking for people to help in whatever way they can. The way we help may not even be putting out a fire. It takes all people doing different things to make the modern volunteer department work.”

Casey expressed his gratitude for the community’s support of the Burkville Fire Department and encouraged his neighbors to continue to lean on the department when in need.