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Family of Islandton firefighters praise fire service

A second-generation firefighter in one of Colleton County’s most rural communities is about to watch his son also begin volunteering in their hometown.

Matthew Owen Williams, Jr., better known to everyone in his native community of Islandton as “Matt,” is a lifetime volunteer with Colleton County Fire-Rescue. He is also a station captain for both of the county-operated fire stations. In this role, Williams oversees the daily operations of Station 10 and Station 15, which are both located in Islandton. He also oversees the volunteers and the training of volunteers at both stations. In all, there are approximately 14 volunteers who man both stations in Islandton.

Williams, 46, is an Islandton native an d a current resident. He is the son of Matthew Owen Williams, Sr., who began volunteering with the Islandton departments in 1981. Williams watched his father help his community through working with the fire department. Then, when Williams was a senior in high school, he decided to also volunteer. “All of my friends’ fathers were with our local fire department,” he said. “The way the community is built here, we all go to church together and we all do the fire department together.”

After completing college, Williams said the fire service kept “calling” to him. It was then that he decided to pursue his passion and become a paid firefighter. He began his paid firefighting career in 1995 in Charleston County. Now, he works as a firefighter at the Savannah River Site. He also volunteers with Colleton County Fire-Rescue.

“It’s what I love,” he said.

Matt’s son – Matthew Owen Williams, Jr., who goes by Matthew – will be the third-generation firefighter in their family to volunteer with Colleton County Fire-Rescue. “He is 13 years old now. When he turns 14, he can join the Explorer program with Colleton County Fire-Rescue,” said Williams. The Junior Explorer Program is a youth-based firefighting program operated by the staff at CCFR. It allows youth ages 14 to 18 to begin volunteering with the county’s fire service. Those in the program also learn the basics of firefighting, and have the option to take their skills into a paid firefighting career. “He has been counting it down,” Williams said, of his son entering the Explorer program. “It makes me proud that he wants to be involved in the fire service. The most gratifying part is being a volunteer in your own community. We know everyone here, and this community is very tight-knit.”

“The fire service in this county is very important to me, to my family,” said Williams. “I love helping people.”

Williams calls his hometown of Islandton a “special place.” He also says he is fortunate to be a part of the local fire-rescue department in Colleton County. “There are so many good people here. All of us are in this. It’s a family,” he said. “I can’t imagine living anywhere else, or doing anything else.

“Colleton County Fire-Rescue, with Barry as the chief and David as the assistant chief, is amazing. It is amazing what we have here and it’s incredible what they have done. They are incredible men and leaders,” he said.

Heather Walters (1491 Posts)