Whether paid or not, volunteer firefighters remain on the job

Carolyn Cary's picture

There was a discussion at the Fayetteville City Hall recently as to whether the city fire department should remain a part of the city, or join with the county fire department.

Many people in authority spoke and various charts were shown. The possible savings were expressed but there was one side not available on charts.

The opinion of the firemen could only be expressed in person. And they did.

If you go back to the early 1950s in Fayette County, a fire truck was purchased for the grand sum of $8.000. While it was purchased by the city of Fayetteville, it was driven to any part of the county that needed it with the services of about 40 volunteer firemen.

Many who owned their own business had to lock the door of the business to head to the fire. The person closest to the fire truck would get it and head out to the fire site, and the volunteers would have been told where to go by driving by the old jail to find out.

It was one for all and all for one.

Fayetteville began paying firemen about 1973 or 1974 and about 1980 the county began paying firemen.

Even after many of these volunteers were now employed, paid firemen, their devotion to the whole county did not wane.

When the county was divided up into fire districts about 1979-1980, the city of Fayetteville and Fayette County then had their own truck and fire district. But guess what — these heroes continued in their devotion to all citizens and continued zipping along to whatever part of the county needed them.

In 1975 the state of Georgia decreed that each county must have its own ambulance service, whether paid or volunteer. There were about 40 concerned citizens who volunteered for the project.

For many years they were not paid, they had to buy their own uniforms and pay each year for their recertification. Some of these volunteers were among the early firemen volunteers.

They went wherever they were sent, including once to south Clayton County. Even when they realized the dispatcher’s error, because they might get there first, they continued and then turned the call over to Clayton County when Clayton got there.

And so it is with the current Fayetteville firemen. The 35 in the department have a total of nearly 300 years experience and they want to remain as Fayetteville firemen.

But do not misunderstand this — they are still dedicated to Fayette County as a whole, and continue to zip to any part of the county that needs additional help in putting out a fire.

There have been many dozens and dozens over the past century who have been volunteers and dozen and dozens who are now paid. Their love of the job at hand has not diminished.

It’s still one for all and all for one.

[Carolyn Cary is the official Fayette County historian and the editor of the county’s first compiled history, “The History of Fayette County,” published in 1977. She lives in Fayetteville. And she was among those volunteers.]