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Hometown Heroes: DeKalb volunteer firefighter missed only one call - but for a very good reason

DeKalb County volunteer firefighter Eric Rolph shares his passion for giving back to his community through service. He's only missed one emergency call, and there's a good reason why.

Posted: Sep 20, 2019 3:10 PM
Updated: Sep 23, 2019 2:49 PM

Being a volunteer firefighter in the small town of Crossville has it's challenges. There's always someone on call, and they don't get paid. That's the volunteer part. But if you stick with it, it can be rewarding.

Just ask Eric Rolph, who has been volunteering to fight fires since he was 14.

Eric Rolph

"You just learn it and learn it and before you know it, you can't do without it," said Rolph about what he described as his calling. "It's something that you do that some people would never do but you do it because you're trained to do it."

Rolph learned lessons in firefighting and in his military career that have proven to be extraordinarily valuable. Teamwork is the key.

"You rely on each other because they could save your life tonight," said Rolph. "You could save his life tomorrow. You've got to rely on each other. You have to have trust."

Fellow firefighter John Wahl spoke highly of Rolph's commitment and dedication to his community, and nominated him for WAAY 31's Hometown Heroes.

"It makes be proud to call him (Rolph) a firefighter," said Wahl. "I know he'll do whatever it takes to keep me safe and keep other people safe."

Wahl said Rolph  spends countless hours every day at the fire station to make sure everyone is prepared. In fact, he even carries his gear in his vehicle to make it first to the scene of a fire, scenes he has seen many times.

Rolph even has a near perfect record of calls. The one one he has missed was to attend another emergency: the birth of his grandaughter Eliza.

"When I went down (to Florida) the first time," recalled Rolph, "she (Eliza) was just an infant and now I have seen the pictures, she smiles, and now I've got to get back down there."

Clearly, Rolph has new perspective since the birth of Eliza and the recent death of fellow firefighter Kole Richards, who was killed in a accident after attempting to change his tire.

A humble Rolph said Richards and other first responders deserve to be honored more than him, but he is appreciative.

That new perspective also taught Rolph that it is OK to slow down and let go from time to time.

"I don't feel like i have to make every call, but if I'm home in the area, it's just instinctive," said Rolph. "You drop everything and go."

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