The Ellerbe Fire Department had their awards dinner at the Rockingham Fish Camp. Honorees included John Sears, fireman of the year, Ronnie McLaughlin for distinguished service, Justin Cloninger, fire chief award and Billy Saultz and Mike Craven for 20 years of service.
Newly appointed fire chief Will Barber gave out the awards.
After being there for 11 years Barber is hoping to see change in the organization.
“I have had a very good experience,” he said of working in the department. “A lot stepped up when others stepped down.”
Barber has high hopes for new recruits and looks forward to see how they will perform in the future.
“I’m looking forward to the new members training and seeing them grow,” he said.
McLaughlin, deputy chief, has been there for 22 years and has seen a lot and said being a part of the department means a lot to him.
“I get to take care of the community and prevent fires,” he said.
McLaughlin said one of the things that stick in his mind was the Richmond Yarns Fire.
“We lost Tim Bennett, who was the assistant fire chief at that time in the fire,” he said of the 1989 incident.
When you are a part of something for a number of years memories tend to stick out, but for Tony Smith it isn’t just about one memory in particular.
“Doing what you can to help someone is what it’s about,” Smith said. “Every time we help save a life is important to me.”
He said that they take pride in cases where they are able to save that person’s property. And when it comes to getting the job done, the department requires grants each year.
“Everything that we do is expensive,” Smith said.
The fire department has been able to get new equipment from grants that the department applies for each year.
Staff Writer Hollie Nivens can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 19 or by e-mail at email@example.com