A firefighter’s bond is one for life. When a young man or woman chooses to enter the fire services, the ones who came before them ensure they know it’s a decision that lasts long past retirement.
The family of the late Capt. Phil Sheffer knows firsthand what this lifelong bond means as retired Cherokee County Fire & Emergency Services employees recently came to their aid.
Last June, a phone call came in to Cherokee Fire-ES headquarters. It was a call for help from a family friend of Capt. Sheffer. The caller said Sheffer’s family home had begun deteriorating since his passing, leading to many safety issues and needed repairs.
Retired Cherokee County firefighters Dan West, Tommy Carnes and Brian Wildeman were ready to help.
“As firefighters, we are used to taking action by providing help to the community. The same is true for those in our brotherhood and of their families,” said retired Division Chief West.
West reached out in a social media post to a group of former and current firefighters asking for donations and created a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for the needed repairs, which included replacing the roof, siding, deck, several windows and fixing driveway erosion.
West, along with Wildeman, Carnes and others, began making reoccurring trips to Tennessee to make the needed repairs to Sheffer’s home.
“After being retired for several years, it felt great to be needed again and it gave us a chance to honor Phil’s memory by helping his family,” said retired Battalion Chief Carnes.
Capt. Sheffer worked for Cherokee County for more than two decades. He began his career with Cherokee EMS in April of 1988 before moving on to the fire department. He later served as the Information Systems Manager and Deputy Director of Administrative Services. Sheffer worked his way up the ranks through sergeant and lieutenant in the fire department and retired as a captain in 2011.
In the years since his retirement, Sheffer and his family relocated to Tennessee. He developed health issues and passed away in July 2017 after a prolonged battle with cancer, leaving behind a wife and son.
Although he’s gone, his fire family is making sure his wife and son are taken care of.
The firefighters have raised close to $4,500 dollars in cash and donated items to make all the needed repairs. The project is close to wrapping up with only insulation and Sheetrock in a bathroom and a replacement sliding glass door remaining.
“I want people to know that this is what being a firefighter is all about,” said retired training officer Wildeman. “It is a lifelong commitment of taking care of one another, it does not end after retirement.”