Today I was reminded how much the South Carolina fire service cares about its own. From June 2005 until August 2011, I had the privilege to serve as the State Mobilization Coordinator, and during those six years, I participated in 15 mobilization activations. Many of them were multi-day incidents, and two of them were line-of-duty death responses. Some of you chiefs reading this article may have been on the receiving end of my phone call on a weekend, in the middle of the night or while on vacation (yes, that happened once). Time after time, our fire service, without hesitation, has responded to the call for help from one of their neighbors. During the Chance Zobel line-of-duty death response, the Columbia Fire Department was preparing to request staffing assistance from Mobilization for the day of the funeral. One Division Chief asked me, “How much is too much to ask for?” My response was simple, “Ask for what you need, and our fire service will do the rest.” My confidence was based on my experiences during the Charleston 9 response. I had seen our fire service do amazing things.
Today, the Ekom Fire Department in Laurens County received a call they never expected. This time, “their home” was on fire, and by the time they arrived, there wasn’t much they could do. The apparatus were inside along with many volunteers’ turnout gear, and it appears they lost it all. As the news of the fire spread, our cell phones started blowing up. The callers didn’t ask for the latest information; they were calling to offer help. One upstate chief said, “we’ve got two engines, fully-equipped, we can send them today.” Another chief offered gear and equipment, and the list goes on and on. I am humbled to be able to serve such a noble profession. Today I was reminded how much our fire service cares about its own.
This article was originally published on March 28, 2013.