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Lake calls fire career “living the dream”

One of Walterboro’s longest-serving firemen has left his post.
Wayne Lake has served the city as a fireman for 28 years. For the last four years, the Walterboro native has acted as the department’s chief.
Lake was publicly honored by Walterboro City Council last week for his career and his service to the city, with city council issuing a resolution in his honor. But, it was following that public ceremony that Lake put his career into his own words.
In a written essay that he publicly released late last week, Lake openly talks about love of fire trucks, of fighting fire and of protecting his community.
He refers to his time as a fireman as “living the dream.”
“I recall as a child having a small fleet of toy fire trucks so it’s no surprise that the fire service has been a passion of mine for over 30 years,” he said. “I am very proud to share that 28 years has been with the City of Walterboro Fire Department. I have been honored to have served as the Fire Chief for the past four years. It’s hard to believe how fast time flies.”
Prior to his becoming a career fireman, Lake served as a volunteer firefighter. During that time, Lake was mentored by former fire Chief Wayne Walker.
Lake credits Walker with giving him his start in the firefighting business. He also speaks fondly of Jeff Laney, a former firefighter who Lake says “took me under hs wing.”
“Jeff taught me how important it was to keep all the equipment clean and in working order. It didn’t take long before I realized that I had found my calling in life and I wanted a full-time career in the fire service,” said Lake.
Prior to working in Walterboro, Lake began his firefighting career with the City of Charleston Fire Department. A few years after beginning with that department, Lake recalls transferring back to Colleton County. “One Sunday morning just before worship service began Ashton Syfrett, the fire chief then for the Walterboro Fire Department, sat down beside me. He leaned over and asked me, ‘Why don’t you come home and serve the people here in your home town?’ I guess you could say the rest is history,” said Lake.
During his tenure with the city, Lake was a part of the former transition from the city having two separate city and police departments into a unified public safety department. The city has since split the two departments back into their respective agencies. Nonetheless, Lake says the entire experience was a positive part of his career. “I learned a lot from that approach,” he said. “One positive thing I learned from that experience was the cross-training opportunity can work if people have the desire, ability and commitment to serve.”
Lake’s last day with the Walterboro Fire Department is officially Sept. 16th.
Former Walterboro fire chief and firefighter, Paul Seigler, has left his retirement and has come back to serve the local department as its interim chief. The application process for the city’s next fire chief is currently underway.
“Through thick and thin I must say that I have been truly blessed to have served with some of the best firefighters over the years,” said Lake.

Heather Walters (1489 Posts)