POCOMOKE — When he’s not busy working behind a desk as Pocomoke’s County Commissioner, Merrill Lockfaw can likely be found behind the wheel of a fire truck serving as a volunteer firefighter for the community. With more than four decades of service under his belt, Lockfaw has been recognized for his efforts and recently inducted into the Firefighters Historical Foundation of Delmarva Hall of Fame.
“When I found out that I had been selected, I was very excited and pleased,” he said. “It’s been 41 years. I’ve had a lot of enjoyment in the fire company and I think that it’s one of the most worthwhile things a person can do. And to be recognized was just very exciting.”
During his tenure with the Pocomoke Fire Company (PFC), Lockfaw has worn a lot of different hats, or in this case, helmets. He currently serves as recording secretary for the company, operates trucks and still responds to field calls. Lockfaw also served as chief of the company from 1986 to 1990.
“I don’t pull hose or climb ladders and things like that as much as I did when I was younger, but I still drive the trucks and serve as secretary,” he said.
While he admits that “you can’t make [every call] unless you live right there in the firehouse 24-7,” Lockfaw maintains a high response percentage, despite being a County Commissioner and being involved with a variety of community projects such as 4-H, the Fraternal Order of Master Masons, and playing an active role in his church.
Before Lockfaw signed on as a volunteer firefighter in 1972, he said that he had a neighbor who participated and introduced him into the company.
“I had always admired the firemen, especially in Pocomoke, and I knew a lot of them growing up,” said the commissioner.
It’s harder today to get people interested in volunteer firefighting, said Lockfaw. He attributed the cooling off to the fact that young people today seem to be caught in more of a runaround with school, work, jobs, families and other obligations. However, there are still new recruits who find the time to volunteer and Lockfaw said that he is impressed by them and tries to mentor those who are just starting.
“I like working with the young guys that are just coming along,” he said.
One such cadet is Lockfaw’s 16-year-old grandson.
“My oldest grandson now, who is 16, he’s following in my footsteps and is a cadet. So I’m watching him and I’m seeing myself when I was many years younger,” the commissioner said.