Outgoing Ludowici/Long County Fire Department Chief Darrell Ballance was honored Tuesday during the department’s annual Christmas party for his service.
Ballance, who has been a firefighter for 35 years and chief of the Long County department since 1997, will step down from the position at the end of this month.
“I appreciate the support that the citizens of Long County have given to me,” Ballance said. “We’ve had disasters, major fires and many other incidents, but the people of this county have always supported me and the fire department whether it was donations, food or other support, and for that I thank them.”
Assistant Chief Richard Truman will replace Ballance, while Capt. Tyler Hall will replace Truman as assistant chief. Ballance will remain the county’s Emergency Management Agency director as well as a firefighter.
Ballance received a plaque from Truman and enjoyed a meal with his department at the annual Christmas party. He spoke to the department about his departure.
“It’s time for the Ludowici/Long County Fire Department to move into the 21st century, and Richard and Tyler have already stepped up to the plate and are doing a good job,” he said.
Ballance said one of the things he is most proud of accomplishing with the support of the department was its attaining an Insurance Service Office rating of five for the entire county. Some of the work required for the rating included testing hoses, hydrants, ladders and trucks. He also is proud that the county now has six different stations, and that at least one fire truck is in each of these buildings. Ballance said the ISO rating dropped the insurance premium on his home from $1,200 a year to $500.
Ballance also mentioned his gratitude to the Long County Commission for its support, and that he is especially thankful that no firefighter lost their life while he served as chief.
“I hope that they (Truman and Hall) have the same success that I have had in not losing one person,” he said.
Also receiving a plaque at the party was Capt. Karl MacDonald, who was named the 2012 Firefighter of the Year. Each department member received a fleece jacket with the department’s patch on them.