ROCKY MOUNT, Va. – A Rocky Mount man has been volunteering for decades, knocking down expectations to protect his community.
Burton "Spike" Pugh is 93 years old. He first joined the Rocky Mount Volunteer Fire Department on May 8, 1949. To this day, 70 years later, he still runs calls.
"I don't go in any burning buildings no more," Pugh said.
Pugh said the department has come a long way since the old days of tin hats, boots and waders.
"It wasn't fireproof or anything like that," Pugh said.
Crews also did not wear fully protective masks.
"You had to eat the smoke," Pugh said.
Still, some things are the same. The department still has its old 1929 Seagrave fire truck. And Spike still volunteers. He changes air tanks, drags hoses, directs traffic and keeps an eye out at the scene of fires.
Fire Chief Justin Woodrow says the department is lucky to have someone with Spike's knowledge and experience.
"When he gets on that call, he's still that 24-year-old guy that just joined the department, strong as an ox, ready to help anybody," Woodrow said.
Spike has run tough calls over the years.
"I've seen several deaths and wrecks," Pugh said.
He's also run calls he'll never forget.
"This little boy, he'd got in bed and covered up his head and we got him, carried him down the ladder and the whole floor fell down," Pugh said. "If we'd had been one minute later, he would have fell right down in that fire and burned up."
Spike may have slowed down a little over the years, but his fire is far from extinguished.
"I'm still going. I just try to help people that really need it," Pugh said. "If you can help a person, I always tried to help one."