Fire protection in the rural Columbia County community of Winfield started in the mid 1980s with the men and women who served the Winfield Volunteer Fire Department.
County officials rededicated one of the department's original stations, now a Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue station, on Wednesday, honoring all the former fire chiefs and the first board of directors.
"These guys started out with nothing and they put their heart and soul into it," Martinez-Columbia Chief Doug Cooper said.
The department started in April 1984 and protected the Winfield area until the Columbia County Commission consolidated fire service in November 2005. The Winfield community agreed to allow the station at 6285 Cobbham Road to be used by Martinez-Columbia as long as it remained in service as a fire station.
Original board member Vernon Thomas said he remembers working on the building before it was put into use.
"We did a lot on the building before we could use it to serve the community," Thomas said.
After renovations and funding to fully staff the station, the building was put into service as Martinez-Columbia Engine Co. 13 in July 2007.
The new bronze plaque outside the station dedicates the building to former members of the Winfield department, including its first chief Frank Cannon, and the last chief John Black, who unveiled the plaque, and Bill Best, who died in June 2008.
"I feel like this is so nice for him and his family because he was so involved," Thomas said of Best. "I feel like we owe him this tribute."
Best's wife, Peggy, and other family members attended the ceremony. Peggy Best said she remembers there were no radios when the department started, so she would help her husband call firefighters on the phone to respond to a fire.
"It was a little rough, but we did it," she said.
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