PICKENS, S.C. (WSPA) – In a First Responder Friday first, we’re celebrating the career of a just-retired first responder.
70-year-old Jim Porter recently retired as a volunteer firefighter for the Pickens Fire Department. He’d been with the department since 1986.
“The guys,” Porter said when asked what he will miss about being a volunteer firefighter. “Miss the guys, the comradery, the family. That’s what I’ll miss the most. But, there’s a time you have to give it up and I realize that.”
The biggest changes Porter said he has seen over his 36 years as a first responder are training and equipment.
Today, each firefighter has his own air pack. There were only six air packs for the entire station when he started.
“They kept the coats on the fire truck. If we had a fire, when you got to the fire, you’d go to the truck and get yourself a coat and a hat,” according to Porter.
“If you didn’t get there on time, you didn’t get a coat and a hat.”
Training also takes up a tremendous amount of time, according to Pickens Fire Chief Chris Elrod. However, he’s appreciative of what volunteer firefighters do for the department.
“Just being able to go out and serve their community they would leave work, leave their meal, knowing they were going to lose revenue because they weren’t there to work anymore,” Chief Elrod said. “But they were willing to do that just to serve their community.”
He and his brother own Porter Brothers Automotive which is a short distance from the fire station. As a result, he was usually available to fight fires that happened during daylight hours.
Jim Porter was able to do that until he turned 70 years old and made the decision it was time to retire.