SPIRIT OF OKTIBBEHA: Ball fosters growth as longtime volunteer fire chief

Greg Ball (center) when he was named as a Jefferson Award recipient for the impact he’s made in the community through volunteer work. (courtesy photo)
Staff Writer

Volunteers come in many forms and some even take life-threatening risks just to help their fellow man.

Greg Ball is one of the latter.

Ball, 51, has served as the fire chief for the East Oktibbeha Volunteer Fire Department since 2001.

In his 25 years as a volunteer fire fighter, the Pontotoc County native has come to the aid of many while also helping young aspiring fire fighters find a career in the emergency sector.

“I had one come down here to go to school to be an engineer from Chicago,” he said. “ He came down here, realized he liked being a fire fighter and doing medical, so he put himself through EMT school and now he is a flight paramedic in Jackson. It’s fun to watch the college kids come through and grow through the fire department and get a taste of it and move on with it.”

Ball first became a volunteer fire fighter when he moved to the area and noticed there was not a volunteer station close to his community in Sessums.

“I just wanted to help the community out and along the way one of my neighbors had gone to one or two of the meetings about expansion of some of the departments,” he said. “They wanted to put one in Sessums, so I started volunteering to to join on with East Oktibbeha. Basically it is a satellite station.”

During his time as chief, Ball has overseen numerous improvements in the scope and capabilities of the East Oktibbeha Volunteer Fire Department.

In 2001, the East Oktibbeha Station received a Class 8 rating. Ball said a rating of Class 10 is normally reserved for new stations.

Ball said the station moved from Class 8 to Class 7 in the last couple of months.

“That saves the average homeowner anywhere from 40 to 45 percent on homeowner’s insurance when we get those ratings down,” he said. “We want to expand the district as soon as we can get some other stuff tied down, hopefully we are about to expand our district to move further north and south of our present district.”

Ball may put in the hours at the fire station, but he also works full time at Rackley Oil and is a father of two daughters who are both in college.

“They’ve supported me through the volunteer fire department and they always understood if the alarm goes off I have to go and they know that,” he said. “It’s always a rewarding to come along and get a pat on the back for being a volunteer.”