June 22, 2021
Fire has been around for millions of years, and humans have been figuring out ways to stop it from destroying land, flora and fauna for just as long.
While the history of the South Carolina fire service doesn’t go back quite that far, it does date back a few hundred years. Indeed, the Association’s own journey began over 115 years ago when the Charleston Fire Department Assistant Chief Louis Behrens organized a meeting to form the South Carolina State Firemen’s Association. Since its formation, the Association has been at the forefront of firefighter advocacy, training and education.
Fast forward to current day, and the Association has its very own historian who is collecting the history of the state’s fire service, one department at a time. Carter Jones, retired Chief of the Clarendon County Fire/Rescue Department and a past president of the Association, spends his days on the road, talking to firefighters, chiefs, members of the community and historians, constantly discovering untold or unwritten stories.
In South Carolina’s 46 counties sits hundreds of fire departments rich with history. Carter’s mission to document departments’ history has uncovered many firsts and brought to light forgotten legends. The first known stories of most of the researched departments date back to the 1700s.
Carter’s most recent deep dive into fire department history led him to the big city of Elloree in Orangeburg County. The town reported 631 residents in the latest available census. In his report, Carter describes the town, noting, “Elloree is a beautiful, diminutive town with numerous charming old homes dating back to the early 1900s or before. There is a lot of fascinating history in this town that typifies its motto, “A Small ‘Slice of Southern Living.”
Read The First Fifty Years: Elloree Fire Department and all of Carter’s department research papers.