‘THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE’: Memorial ceremony recognizes fallen firefighters

COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — Every year, firefighters remember fallen comrades who have given their lives for others while on the job.

Wednesday morning, four new names were put up on the memorial wall at the state fire academy.

“The essence of the strength of our state is represented here today by these men we honor and memorialize,” said Gov. Henry McMaster, who attended a memorial ceremony at the state fire academy. 

Wednesday, a memorial service remembered four South Carolina firefighters who lost their lives on the job.

Three of the four firefighters were lost recently but one firefighter recognized died back in 1956 while serving the Ehrhardt Fire Department.

“We’ve got names from the 1800s that we’ve been able to research and find,” said state fire marshal Chief Jonathan Jones. “That name was discovered through an old newspaper article that described the firefighter’s death. It met the criteria for a line of duty death so posthumously, we were able to put him on the wall.”

In recent years, the South Carolina Firefighters Association has reported a ‘serious statewide shortage’. The state fire marshal says they are looking for anyone willing to help out at fire departments.

“Volunteer fire departments in particular are looking for people to not run into burning buildings,” Jones said. “They need people who can drive trucks, pump the apparatus, do fire prevention and check smoke alarms. While firefighting might not be for everyone, fire departments have a place for everyone who is willing to serve their community.”

Even so, dozens of firefighters around the country die each year, making the profession inherently dangerous. 

“Most people would describe it as calculated risk,” Jones said. “When there’s a life on the line, many of us are willing to risk our lives in pursuit of saving someone else’s.”

“It’s a unique blend of self-determination and community service. It’s a desire to help when someone has a need, “said Chaplain Gene Ball of the South Carolina State Association of Fire Chiefs.

“God bless the men and women who fight the fires,” the governor concluded.

Since firefighters face a difficult job every day, Governor Henry McMaster says he hopes to put more money in their pockets during his second term.


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