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Father and Sons Responded When Town Formed Volunteer Fire Department

Tony Mobley, Sr. (center) along with sons Tony Jr., 27, (left), and Colin, 19, are preparing to serve as volunteer firefighters for their community in North Johns. (Joe Songer, For The Birmingham Times)
By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times

Tony Mobley Sr. and his two sons spend a lot of time doing activities together: hunting, fishing, family vacations. Now they can add fighting fires to the list.

Mobley Sr., 53, along with his sons Tony Jr., 27 and Colin, 19, will serve as volunteer firefighters for their community—North Johns, Alabama, the second smallest incorporated town in Jefferson County located eight miles southwest of Hueytown.

Mobley Sr., a retired U.S. Army veteran and president of the North Johns City Council, learned about the volunteer firefighter opportunity from North Johns Mayor Kenneth Lindsay.

“The mayor and I were talking about it, and it’s something that we need to do to protect our community,” he said. “In our community, we’ve had fires before, and it was just a situation where there wasn’t any [quick] response, so we had to get to a point where we can do what we must to take care of our neighbors.”

Mobley and his sons will be three of about 12 volunteer firefighters in North Johns.

“I’m looking forward to [firefighting] being a challenge,” said Mobley Sr. “Whatever it is, we’re going to face it head on.”

Colin said, “It’s pretty cool that my family and I get to do this together. We haven’t had a fire department for as long as I can remember, and I think it is important for all communities to have a fire department and first responders. If worse comes to worst, we can react fast.”

Mobley Sr. is originally from Orville, Alabama, and his family has lived in North Johns for about 15 years. When he heard about the opportunity to become a volunteer firefighter, he encouraged his sons to join with him.

“I told them, ‘This is our community, and we need young people. I want you guys to join with me. We need to protect our community,’” Mobley Sr. said.

Tony Jr. said he wants to help in his hometown. “I can remember there being a really big fire at the house next door to my parents, and that family lost everything,” he said. “I remember wanting to help even then, so to be able to do this now is a huge deal.”

Tony Jr. added, “We never really did stuff outside of fishing or hunting or things like that, so I think it will be really fun. We’re a small community, and we don’t have a lot of money coming in, … so any little thing that can help our community will be big—and anything we can do to help as a family is great, also.”

Colin, a rising sophomore at the University of Alabama at Birmingham majoring in civil engineering, said he didn’t mind volunteering “because it seems pretty cool that we can go out and help people in our hometown in that way.”

“Growing up, I had a little fire truck, and I thought, ‘Maybe I want to be a firefighter.’ In the future and as I got older, it went away, but when my dad told me about [being a volunteer firefighter], I was excited to try this out,” he said.

This is just one of many family activities the Mobley’s are excited about.

“What is great about it is that my sons were OK with doing this,” Mobley Sr. said. “Usually, young people these days have too much going on and are too busy, but once I talked to [my sons] about it, they were OK with it and wanted to participate. It feels great to know that I raised them right, to have love for their fellow man and to want to help. It seems like their mother and I did a great job of raising them for them to have that mentality.”