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Safety day honors lost firefighters, engages public
Lilly Ellefson, 1, and her brother, Oliver Ellefson, 3, stopped by the Bryan County Fire/EMS booth for hats and ribbons to get into the spirit of Public Safety Day. - photo by Photo by Katie McGurl
Typically a time for fun and public safety education, this year’s Public Safety Day for Bryan County was also a time of remembrance.
Public Safety Day, presented by Bryan County Fire Department in conjunction with the Bryan County Firefighters Association, was celebrated on Saturday with a well-attended event in the Publix parking lot on Hwy. 144.
But before the family friendly demonstrations, interactive learning experiences and games got rolling, two local firefighters who lost their lives this year – Art Gautreau and Terry Nielsen – were honored during the opening ceremonies.
“We’ve had a fairly bad year – we lost two of our firefighters, one in the line of duty and one in an accident,” said District Fire Chief Mike Smith.
Nielsen, 56, died in early September, following injuries he sustained during a training exercise in June.
The county honored his memory by designating the road intersecting Capt. Matthew Freeman Drive in South Bryan with the name Terrell ’Terry’ Nielsen Drive. Burnsed presented Kathy, Nielsen’s wife, with a framed proclamation and road sign.
Gautreau, a veteran pilot active with the South Bryan Volunteer Fire Department, lost his life in March when his small plane crashed in Georgetown. The department’s training facility has been renamed Art Gautreau Fire Training Facility in his honor.
“I think it’s a great day to recognize our heroes,” Bryan County Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed said during the opening ceremony.
“We have some of the finest protectors … for that we thank you,” he said, addressing the emergency services volunteers.
Members from all branches of emergency services were on hand to help with demonstrations and more throughout the day.
Jim Anderson, Bryan County Emergency Services director, said the focus of Public Safety Day is to make sure that people are “aware we’re there for them and the services that we offer, and maybe get some interest from the youth.”
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