Members of the Winfield Volunteer Fire Company say their company is like a family.
So when 10-year member Ernest Eugene Poole Jr. died in an accident 10 months ago, the department did what any family would do: It rallied around Poole's wife, Denise, and his 7-year-old daughter, Nicole.
"They're pretty special to us up there," said Billy Yingling, who, with fellow volunteer fireman Robby Farver, organized a fund-raising dance for the Pooles last month.
The $5,000 raised at the dance went into a bank account that the fire department opened for Nicole shortly after her father's death. The account currently totals about $15,000 Mr. Yingling said.
Mr. Poole, 26, was killed Dec. 11, when a pickup truck pinned him to a trash collection truck he was walking behind, then burst into flames.
The accident occurred two miles from the Winfield fire station.
"He was a real nice fellow, and we all miss him a lot," said Mr. Yingling. "I don't think you'd find anybody that would say a bad word about him.
"Just about everybody who knew him was his friend."
Mr. Poole, who worked for East
ern Waste Industries, was very active with the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department. He answered many emergency calls during his 10 years with the company.
"He was a good, hard worker, a quiet sort of boy," Mr. Farver said. "He had loads of friends, everybody liked him."
Since Mr. Poole's death, fire department members have made a special effort to help his wife and daughter.
"They've been a really big part of my sister-in-law and niece's life," said Cheri Holl, Mr. Poole's sister. "He [Ernest Poole] would always say he was in the fire department because it's another part of his family."
Mr. Yingling and Mr. Farver organized the country dance as a major fund-raiser for Nicole's trust fund. The band agreed to play at a reduced price and local businesses donated food, drinks and items for an auction and raffle.
"It was a good effort by everyone in the community," Mr. Farver said. "I don't think anybody we asked to help us gave a negative response."
Ms. Holl said that Mrs. Poole, who also is a Winfield Volunteer Fire Company member, is dealing with the tragedy "as well as expected. It's a very hard situation."
Anyone wishing to contribute to Nicole Poole's fund may send donations to the Winfield Volunteer Fire Company, 1320 West Old Liberty Pike, Sykesville 21784. Checks should be made payable to Nicole's Fund.