“One of the greatest tributes we can demonstrate to our fallen is through the dedication of fire engines,” he said at the public safety memorial near Wolf Creek Amphitheater in College Park.
“It is fitting that we do that so I call their names, two of our fallen comrades, never to be forgotten as we dedicate two Spartan Gladiator engines to Felix Roberts who answered his last alarm May 28, 2007, and Harold ‘Hoot’ Gibson, who answered his last alarm July 2, 2011.”
Before blessing the engines, the Rev. Warren L. Henry, the county chaplain, said both men valued the fire department’s watchwords of loyalty, pride, integrity and respect.
“These men we honor today had these words carved in their hearts. They believed in ‘service to all and second to none,’” he said, citing the department’s slogan.
Deputy Fire Chief Jack Butler remembered Roberts, who died trying to rescue a trapped victim in a burning house.
“I can tell you from knowing him, firefighters are still inspired by what he did and what he was like as a person. He was the kind of person who didn’t put up with any kind of negativity. Engine 5 will serve as a fitting memorial to Felix,” he said.
Deputy Fire Chief Wesley Stubbs said he and Gibson, a paramedic, rode Rescue 1 together.
“We used to kid him that when the alarm bell went off, he’d run in three or four circles before he’d head for the truck because he was so excited to go out and help the public,” he said. “As we put his name on Engine 23, Hoot will still be responding to people and we have given the engine a story.”
Gibson died of complications from hepatitis C he contracted from a patient.
Firefighter Glenn Washington was chosen to helm Engine 5 for Fire Station No. 5 in Fairburn.
“It’s going to be a definite honor to drive the truck that is dedicated to Felix,” he said after the ceremony. “He was definitely an inspiration to me as a firefighter. He made me want to strive to be better and to be more, and to become more, in the fire service.”