Q&A with Lt. Danny Williams

December 4, 2013 

Lt. Danny Williams

City of Residence: Warner Robins

Occupation: Warner Robins Fire Department

QUESTION: How many Christmas ornaments does the Warner Robins Fire Department put up along Watson Boulevard each year?

ANSWER: Between 55 and 65. The reason for the “between” is the poles change through the years, and sometimes they or the brackets aren’t there. Sometimes there’s construction, or power lines might have gone underground like around the new law enforcement center.

QUESTION: Is the fire department responsible for all city decorations?

ANSWER: Just what goes on the poles. They’re all up now, about 56 of them. About six need brackets replaced to go up.

QUESTION: What’s the process for getting them up?

ANSWER: Our goal is to get them up before Thanksgiving to make sure they’re ready for the Christmas parade, which is Saturday. During the year we store them in a room with racks in the lower level of the civic center. We bring them out, load them in a pickup and use a city bucket truck to put them up.

QUESTION: What about the fire truck?

ANSWER: We have a fire truck follow with lights mainly to draw attention for safety.

QUESTION: How long does it take?

ANSWER: A day to put them up if the weather is good. This year was perfect. Usually it’s cold or misting rain. It takes a couple of us a day or so to check them out at the civic center before we put them up. We make sure all the lights are working.

QUESTION: How many people does it take to put them up?

ANSWER: We’ve done it so much nine or so can get it done in a day if there’s no interruptions or fire calls.

QUESTION: How are they powered?

ANSWER: They each have photo cells now and turn themselves on. It used to be we had to go out every evening and switch them on manually. We still have to keep an eye on them for burned out bulbs.

QUESTION: How long have you been working with the decorations?

ANSWER: Pretty much the whole 25 years I’ve been with the department. My daughters -- especially my 7 year old -- and I talk about it, and she asks if I’m going to put the lights up again. As long as I’ve been doing it, I still get that, “We did that -- that looks good” thing. Or if there are gaps or something’s wrong, it’s, “We better see to that.”

QUESTION: No doubt they’re bigger than they look.

ANSWER: The smallest is 6 feet tall and others are 8 feet. We put them 19 to 20 feet up, so they do look a lot smaller than they really are.

QUESTION: When do they come down?

ANSWER: Usually the first week of January. It’s not a certain day and depends on the weather.

QUESTION: Have the lights ever not gone up?

ANSWER: Quite a few years back they were looking kind of bad and didn’t go up. Citizens contacted City Hall and said, “No, you’ve got to put them up.” So we put them up. For a while we had decorations that had long tails that came down far enough (that) semi-trucks would hit them, and they really took a beating and got bad looking. No more of those.

QUESTION: What’s your normal role with the fire department?

ANSWER: Lieutenant of fire prevention.

QUESTION: So safety is a big thing for you. Is Christmas a more dangerous time of year?

ANSWER: There are definitely dangers with decorations, dried out trees with packages underneath, overloaded outlets and extension cords running everywhere. But really we don’t have much increase in home fires around Christmas. People should use common sense and unplug decorations when they’re not home. Don’t put extension cords under things and cause them to heat up, and be extra careful with fireplaces and space heaters. Check your smoke detectors.

Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at mwpannell@gmail.com.

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