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Looking back at Guytons volunteer fire department
Early Handcart with 1984 Modern Firetruck
A modern fire truck provides a background for an early hand cart. - photo by Photo provided

The following was taken from the 75th anniversary edition of The Herald

Guyton’s Volunteer Fire Department was formed on July 7, 1953.

The original department had two hose carts and a 1947 Dodge truck. The city of Savannah, and particularly Savannah Fire Chief Richter, helped the fledgling department to assemble necessary equipment.

“We’ve got a class ‘A’ pumper” assistant chief Rev. Benny Dowdy said. “Effingham in very well blessed with fire-fighting equipment and manpower.”

Guyton’s department has one special piece of equipment, the “jaws of life”. It is used to pry wreckage away from a victim, usually in an automobile accident.  Purchased with the cooperation with the Effingham County Sheriff’s Department and Emergency Medical Services, the equipment is kept on one of Guyton’s fire trucks because they recommend having water when you use it.

Commenting on the unexpected nature of the fire calls, Dowdy said, “We were paged out two Sundays in a row right in the beginning of services. But there were enough men available for me to continue with the services at the church.”

A major component of the success of the volunteer fire department is the cooperation given by the community, “Guyton citizens are quick to lend a hand at the scene of a fire.  The majority are overly anxious to help.”

The first fire chief for the department was T. L. Crapps. Merle Kilgore is presently serving in the community (1984) as fire chief.

Other members of the department include: Mr. and Mrs. Raymond Horton, secretary/treasurer; C. D. Dean, Ray Horton, Joe Martin and Ezra Webb serve as officers.

“I am still a foreigner here, I’ve only been here for 22 years,” said Chief Kilgore.  “Until about five or six years ago, Guyton provided fire protection to the back of the county.”

Chief Kilgore praised the Fire Chief’s Association.  “It’s a real active organization.”  Noel Kessler is currently serving as president of the association. (1984)

Other firemen are: Evelyn Rahn, Debbie Horton, Sharon Martin, Claudine Horton, Darrell Brown, Walter Irving, Colen Campbell, Dane Horton, Anthony King, Randy DeWitt, Kerwin Kilgore and Willie Holland. Mr. Kilgore is an EMT and his wife Martha is a first responder. “We hope to have others take the first responders course soon,” Kilgore added.

This was compiled  by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact Susan Exley at 754-6681 or email her at: