Firemen recognized
Written by Jerry Durgan, Staff Reporter   

“You have this special night to be honor us,” Claudia Sandifer, wife of retiring volunteer fireman Buddy Sandifer, said last Thursday evening. “But I feel we need to honor you because of your special calling and dedication…you have in you a built-in determination to help others whatever their need may be…You are special people.”

The Bamberg Fire Department’s annual Ladies Night Firemen’s Banquet traditionally honors those wives and families of the department’s firemen, and presents awards to the firemen who’ve “performed above and beyond the call of duty.”

This year it was dedicated in the memory of the 9 firefighters that lost their lives in June of 2007.

Bamberg Mayor Alton McCollum said of the department, “It’s not just a fire department we have in this little town,” he said, “but is one of the finest fire departments in the state. “As I looked around tonight, a thought came to mind, he said, ‘What would it be like if we didn’t have you?’ The best thing I can say is thank you for your service and dedication!”

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Honoring the Bamberg firemen, the top ten fire fighters for 2007 were Obie Williams for 25 years of service, Paul Sandifer for answering 131 fire calls, Terry Still for 121 calls, Anthony Haddock for114 calls, Chris Sandifer for 82 calls, James Fisher for 79 calls, Buck Fralick for 76 calls, Jay William Smith for 60 calls, Bill Priester for 60 calls, and Kevin Sandifer for 58 calls.

Fire Department Education Officer Paul Sandifer reported on the busy year for the department with 141 total calls out.

Bingo, a game that’s become tradition at the annual banquet, brought enthusiastic response from the attendees with a gift prize donated by Mr. and Mrs. Smith at which only wives of active firemen may participate, and cash prizes donated by Tobul Accumulators, Phoenix Specialty, and Delevan, Inc.

Prior to the conclusion of the banquet, Asst. Fire Chief Buddy Sandifer announced that he would be retiring from the fire department is 2008. “This will be my last sitting at this head table,” he said, “but now, after all of these years, maybe I can get a chance to win a bingo prize as I sit down there with the rest of you retirees.

“It’s been quite an honor,” he said, “to serve in a department such as Bamberg’s. What we have here tonight is a vision of those people (those firemen that’ve come and gone), and the support we've had to have in order to accomplish what we have in our fire station … that from the governmental body of this town … not only this administration, but from prior administrations. We have some of the finest equipment and firefighters of any station the size of this one.”