Warner Robins firefighters celebrate 50th anniversary

The first entry in the Warner Robins Fire Department’s log is from Oct. 12, 1959. It lists the 10 men and their chief who were the first firefighters the city hired.

Since then, the fire department has grown to 110, including firefighters, office personnel and shift workers.

To honor the fire department’s 50th anniversary, the six fire stations in Warner Robins will hold open houses 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. today, Wednesday and Thursday.

Fire Chief Robert Singletary, who is in his 10th year as chief, said the community is invited “to meet firefighters, tour the station and sample light refreshments.” One station plans to serve etouffee.

The department also plans to hold a demonstration in the parking lot next to Chick-fil-A on Watson Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

“There will be a vehicle extraction, the state search and rescue vehicle (and) bunkers for children to see what we wear and get their pictures made,” Singletary said.

This is the firefighters’ way of showing what they’ve done, firefighter Stewart Scott said.

It’s “a chance to meet some of the city servants that do the job,” he said.

Scott is a second-generation firefighter. His father, David Scott, was one of the original members of the Warner Robins Fire Department. David Scott said some of the first firefighters helped with the construction of the original building, which now houses the Warner Robins Police Department.

Lt. Randy Mullis, a self-proclaimed firefighter history buff, showed off the headquarters’ collection of memorabilia, which shows how far fire fighting has come. The old oxygen tanks weighed about 40 pounds combined with the weight of the metal fire hose nozzles.

“Now it doesn’t take three men 45 minutes to do a job. It takes one man, due to improvements,” Mullis said.

Mullis, who has been with the Warner Robins Fire Department since 1987 and a firefighter since 1979, said firefighters used to fight fires from the outside in, and their gear served as protection from the elements, not from fire.

The old uniforms consisted of cotton duck jackets, tall rubber boots and a hat designed to let hot water run down the backs of the jackets.

Now firefighters fight from the inside out, which requires specialized clothing such as flame-resistant Nomex jackets, pants with built-in knee pads and masks that allow firefighters to breathe.

Traditionally, firefighters wore handlebar mustaches that allowed them to wet the ends and stick them in their mouths to use as a breathing tool, Mullis said. He said he tries to keep that tradition alive with his own mustache.

Mullis teaches an eight-hour class on the history of fire fighting to all of the new rookies at the fire station. His son, Justin Mullis, is also a firefighter who has been with the Warner Robins Fire Department for eight years.

The Fire Department will honor the firefighters and their families who were original members of the first fire station Saturday night at an invitation-only ball.

“I’m very proud to be a part of the Warner Robins Fire Department,” Stewart Scott said.

“We want people to understand the more we improve, the more money we save the community.”

For more information about the open houses or demonstration, call the fire department at 929-6961.