With giant white ceremonial checks in hand, the state fire marshal made a special trip to Wayne County to recognize 13 volunteer fire departments that received North Carolina Volunteer Fire Department grants from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

Commissioner of Insurance and State Fire Marshal Mike Causey shook hands, posed for photos and mingled with area fire chiefs July 14 at the Thoroughfare Volunteer Fire Department on Herring Road.

“These matching grant checks are so important to the volunteer fire departments,” Causey said. “I can’t tell you how many fire chiefs across the state have told me if not for the matching grant checks they wouldn’t be able to be here today.”

The grants require each fire department to match the amount of the grant, with the state grant being provided after local dollars are spent, said Brandon Jones, chief of the Thoroughfare Volunteer Fire Department.

Jones said he appreciates Causey’s visit and receiving the grant money, which will go toward new helmets, flashlights and turnout gear for his firefighters.

“It means a lot for the fire commissioner to come down to Wayne County and visit with us personally,” Jones said. “It makes the whole process more personal. Without this grant, there’s a lot of things we couldn’t do for our community.”

Jones’ department received more than $5,600.

During the 10:45 a.m. event at Thoroughfare Fire Department, Wayne County Commissioner Wayne Aycock, a volunteer firefighter himself, thanked those attending the ceremony for their service.

“Wayne County’s a better place because of y’all,” Aycock said.

He also made a point to say how important it is for fire departments to apply for grants.

“You’re saving the taxpayers in Wayne County a lot of money by applying for these grants,” Aycock said.

In total, the volunteer fire departments received more than $213,000 in grants from the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

The Grantham Volunteer Fire Department received $7,246.50; Indian Springs Volunteer Fire Department, $28,825; Jordans Chapel Fire Department, $13,319.26; Little River Volunteer Fire Department, $16,737.95; Nahunta Volunteer Fire Department, $6,522.50; Oakland Volunteer Fire Department, $26,387.50; Patetown Volunteer Fire Department, $7,678.50; Pikeville-Pleasant Grove Volunteer Fire Department, $27,497.74; Pricetown Volunteer Fire Department, $12,887.50; Saulston Volunteer Fire Department, $27,441; Seven Springs Volunteer Fire Department, $25,846.50; Smith Chapel Volunteer Fire Department, $7,700; and Thoroughfare Volunteer Fire Department, $5,694.37.

Causey said he was glad to meet the grant recipients face to face and thank them for what they do each and every day.

“It means everything to me to be able to get out and in person and be face to face to see the volunteer firefighters and thank them for their sacrifices and what they do every day to keep us safe,” Causey said.