Tessie Smith’s Story

On March 9th, 2016, a car slammed into a Florence EMS vehicle. The Paramedic Crew Chief, Sgt. Tessie Smith was severely injured, spent 22 days in the trauma intensive care unit and lost her right leg.


Chief Billy Dillion of the Howe Springs FD spearheaded an effort to raise $90,000+ to build Tessie and her family a handicapped accessible home – she and her family had been living in manufactured housing which was not handicap friendly.


Tessie was a career EMT Technician but also was a longtime volunteer firefighter and volunteer Sheriff’s deputy.


When Chief Dillion told Tessie’s story to Carter Jones and myself during a visit on behalf of the Foundation, we were certain the Foundation should be a part of the great effort to help. Carter quickly recognized that limited mobility was an issue for Tessie and suggested that the Foundation add residential fire sprinklers to her new home. With the approval of the Foundation Trustees, Carter and the Foundation swung into action with Chief Dillion.


Many folks helped with this effort however a particularly big shout out should go to Reliable Sprinklers of Liberty, SC. Reliable and the Fee family which owns and operates the company are great supporters of the SC Firefighters’ Foundation. In addition to substantial regular financial support, Reliable contributed the sprinkler heads for Tessie’s family’s new home.
The week Tessie moved into her new home, she became a grandmother for the first time.