Bamberg, South Carolina (November 2021) – On Saturday, November 13, 2021, Bamberg County Council and the Bamberg County Fire Advisory Board hosted the first annual Bamberg County Fire Service Banquet at 6:00 p.m. A crowd of nearly 100 people with ties to the Bamberg County Fire Service gathered at Andrew Jackson Academy to honor those first responders who serve, save lives and property, and care for the sick and injured.
The appreciation banquet began as Paul Eubanks, Bamberg County Fire Coordinator, extended a hearty welcome to all in attendance and led the Pledge of Allegiance. As the firefighters and their families took their seats around decorated tables in the school's gymnasium, a program began to recognize them for their selfless bravery and unwavering commitment to the fire service in Bamberg County.
"Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of rural communities," Eubanks said to the crowd of firefighters and their loved ones. "Bamberg County Fire Service consists of courageous people from nine departments who put their lives on the line when duty calls. We're here tonight to show our appreciation for your volunteerism and to encourage you to continue pressing forward."
Kenneth Utz, Chairman of the Bamberg County Fire Advisory Board who also serves as the Chief of the Govan Fire Department, led the celebration in a memorial service to remember departed volunteer firefighters and auxiliary members. The solemn service concluded with the ringing of the bell ceremony as names were called individually.
The honored departed volunteer firefighters and family members were:
● Keith Black - Bamberg Fire Department
● Doc Summers - Hunters Chapel Fire Department
● Frank Boardman - Ehrhardt Fire Department
● Mary Polasky - Denmark Fire Department Auxiliary
● Gidget Stanley - Denmark Fire Department Auxiliary
"In volunteer firefighting, there is no pay, no compensation and no expectation of reward, but you men and women have demonstrated that public service is always above self," stated Bamberg County Administrator Joey Preston. "This banquet is the first of many to show the appreciation of the citizenry of Bamberg County to our brave volunteer firefighters."
Preston and Eubanks then took the opportunity to present William "Timmie" Taylor and Malcolm "Mack" Clayton with the Lifetime Achievement Award.
A state certified fire marshal and fire inspector, Taylor served as the fire chief for the City of Bamberg for more than two decades, among other posts and civic involvement, in a storied career that spanned 31 years in the fire service.
Malcolm "Mack" Clayton, who retired as the chief of the all-volunteer Colston Fire Department after more than thirty years as its leader in October, was also applauded for his distinguished leadership since joining the service in 1989.
The gathering also heard remarks from Bamberg County Council Chairman Larry Haynes, Bamberg County Councilman Evert Comer Jr., Bamberg County Councilman Spencer Donaldson, and Bamberg County Councilwoman Sharon Hammond before the county's fire coordinator returned to the podium to give closing remarks. Mayor Nancy Foster of Bamberg was also in attendance.
"This banquet would not have been possible without the support of our county administrator, elected officials, and community partners," said Eubanks. "The strong collaborative spirit in Bamberg County is one of the main reasons why we are all here. Bamberg County is a better place because of your efforts and we are fortunate to have the support of each and every one of you. Your volunteerism, time, and dedication is critical to life and property safety in Bamberg County."
To learn more about Bamberg County Fire Services or find out about volunteer opportunities, visit the Bamberg County Fire Services at https://www.bambergcountysc.gov/fire-services.