Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Walter Smalls, a gentleman who was attending a reception for the seven finalists for our Chief’s position. He appeared to have a great interest in the fire department and as he and I talked, he shared stories of the Charleston Fire Department many years ago. As it turns out, his father had been a Charleston firefighter in the 1920s, assigned to the truck house, which was located on John Street in those days. He was particularly interested to know if I had ever seen a photograph taken of the firefighters lined up in the front of the truck house back during that era. I told him that I would do some research to see what I could find. One call to my son at the fire museum produced the photograph above.
I met with Mr. Smalls again to share the photo with him and he was able to name each of the firefighters in the picture and explained to me what each of them did to influence him. He was a young boy back then and his father would take him to the truck house where he got to know the firefighters there. As we all think back over our past, I’m sure we can remember people in the fire department that were important to us. I am also sure that the John Street “truckies” were just as proud of being a Charleston firefighter as you are. This department has endured much over the years with the loss of our nine firefighters last year being the most difficult. Next week, all of you will embark on a new course to take this department into the future. The arrival of Chief Carr will be the catalyst to make this department one of which we can be proud. However, Chief Carr cannot do this alone. His reputation precedes him as a true leader but I am sure he would, and will, tell you that each of you are a key to the success of this department. Each one of you has a lot to offer to the future of this department. Step up, guys and girls and show your stuff! Some day you may show up in an old photograph. What would you want for someone to say about the influence you had on them?
Stay safe my friends.