F.O.O.L.S. organization helps fire departments
in Cleveland County
Latrice Williams, Gaston Gazette
For fireman Jon Eaker, putting others first is natural.
Knowing the daily stress of what it takes to look out of the community, he is reminded that sometimes it’s firemen who need caring for. As the President of the F.O.O.L.S. (Federal Order of Leatherhead Society) Chapter in Cleveland County, Eaker spearheads efforts to raise money to support firemen in need.
“It’s a federal foundation based on firemen all over the country that they built together in the 1990s,” said Eaker. “You put money into it, and you make your own chapter for your area. If a fireman is need, we give them money to help them out or help someone out in the community.”
“I have a long history with Jon,” said Perry Davis, director and fire marshal of Cleveland County Emergency Management. “I met him at a very young age and he was a member of my fire department. I’ve been able to see Jon grow.”
Eaker started volunteering at the Oak Grove Fire Department in Kings Mountain when he was 14 years old and became a full-time employee with the city of Shelby five years ago. His passion is fueled from nearly two decades of service, and he’s found even more ways to give back.
Eaker put together an additional training course that keeps firemen fresh on the job and teaches them different skills. The Can Confidence course demonstrates how a fireman can save lives even when the odds are against him.
“In the class, we teach you how to put out a fire with a water can fire extinguisher,” said Eaker. “If you are going in to do a search, you can isolate the fire with the water can and hold it in contact until the hose line gets there. It buys you more time to actually do more searching and save more lives.”
“I applaud him for taking those steps to try to do something of this magnitude,” said Davis. “The portable fire extinguisher is an underutilized tool. You can carry a can in the car. If a firefighter can get water on a fire early, it makes the outcome that much better.”
Eaker is also on a mission to restore the bond between firemen, saying at one point it diminished due to rumors and drama that infiltrated departments. Eaker wanted to create the sense of belonging that once was and believes the F.O.O.L.S. chapter has done that.
“I wanted to give back to the firemen because I wanted to bring the brotherhood back because I feel like we got away from that,” said Eaker. “It’s a good organization – we are trying to keep our fire station going and growing. We have members in just about every fire department in the county. We are trying to build our foundation of neighborhood departments to come together and train together so we can help each other out more than bicker.”
Eaker, who is also an instructor for the Brown Emergency Training Center at Cleveland Community College, has raised $800 for the Can Confidence class and wants to see that number grow. The course is full and has a waiting list. Eaker is thankful to have support from his counterparts and hopes the class will be the first of many.
“The money we raise will feed the firemen that come to train,” said Eaker. “It’s going to be a pretty big hit I hope.”
For more information and to donate to the Cleveland County F.O.O.L.S. Chapter, contact Eaker at email@example.com
Latrice Williams can be reached at 704-669-3333 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Shelby fireman restores brotherhood, keeps fire departments going strong
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