Firefighting is the only job Columbia County Fire Rescue Lt. David Bullard has ever known, and he thrives off the challenges it provides.
“The problem is already there,” Bullard said of situations firefighters deal with daily. “You have a 50-50 shot, either you do or you don’t. The challenge is in solving the problem.”
Bullard looks forward to solving firefighting problems on a larger scale as a member of the board of directors of the Georgia State Firefighters Association.
He spent two years as director at large and took over as the third vice president in August.
“It’s a 10-year progression with the board,” Bullard said, adding his stint will end with a two-year term as the association president beginning in 2016. “It’s a decade commitment.”
Bullard said Fire Chief Doug Cooper “nudged” him to run for the association office.
“We like to have somebody to represent Columbia County on the state fire level,” Cooper said. “I’m proud of David.”
Bullard is the only local representative on the board.
The state association is the largest organization for firefighters in the state and serves, promotes and represents the interests of fire, rescue and emergency personnel throughout Georgia.
Board members guide the association by planning conferences and continuing education, keeping firefighters informed on legislation that affects them, providing a network to share information about fire service and developing new services for association members.
Bullard said his work with the association, where he’s been a member since 2004, is important to more than his department.
“It’s a statewide thing,” Bullard said. “It’s not just decisions that affect here. It’s decisions that affect everybody (in fire service). You’re not thinking locally, (but on) a larger scale, participation on a larger scale.”
Bullard has been a firefighter since be began volunteering for the Leah Volunteer Fire Department at 17.
In 2000, at age 20, he became Harlem’s only paid firefighter. He has been working full-time for Columbia County since 2004 and works part-time with the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.
As second in command of his station on Old Louisville Road, Bullard still rides on the truck and gets into the heat of things. He’s involved in the department’s hazardous materials response team and spends his days off teaching as a state-certified fire instructor.
Bullard said he sees teaching – live fire instruction, hazardous materials response and leadership – as laying a strong foundation for the next generation of firefighters.
“A long time ago, somebody told me that every day, do something to build your legacy,” he said. “Your legacy is what you leave behind. That’s how I see this. It’s doing something to give back.”