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A new member of the Wilson Fire/Rescue Services command staff is bringing more than the knowledge of battling a blaze and budgeting. Michael Sumner fought for his life in 2012 and won against a rare form of thyroid cancer.
The father of one was thrust into the spotlight as the Wilson community rallied around him, but nowadays, the firefighter of 23 years spends his energy promoting cooperation among first responders. He was sworn in as deputy chief over training and department logistics in January, noting his initial focus will be building on partnerships with Wilson police, EMS and 911 staff.
“We are currently working together with all public safety agencies in Wilson County to develop policies for joint training,” Sumner said. “It’s logical for us to all work together as we all have the same goal — to serve the Wilson community and to keep citizens safe.”
The responsibilities and training for firefighters and officers differ, but Sumner said all first responders are essential to mitigating an emergency situation.
“As firefighters, we can help the police department in forced entry situations, since we are specifically trained to gain access to victims in emergency situations,” he said. “We can also assist with aerial ladder views for large vehicle accident scenes, for example.”
Sumner, known as “Teachey” after the Duplin County community where he grew up, also is a member of the Silver Lake Volunteer Fire Department. He is a member of New Hope Baptist Church and recently helped found the Fight for Me Foundation, which helps support firefighters facing life-altering situations.
He serves alongside Deputy Chief Ben Smith and Deputy Chief Jim Campbell under Chief Albert Alston. Two other Wilson Fire/Rescue Services members were promoted alongside Sumner, firefighter-engineer Pittman Horton and firefighter-engineer Travis Moore.