<em>By Samantha Lyles<a href=”mailto:slyles@newsandpress.net”>slyles@newsandpress.net</a></em>

The inaugural Chief Jim Stone Award, recognizing a Darlington County firefighter of outstanding dedication and service, was recently presented to Myrick Hatcher of the Darlington Fire Department. Though the pool of candidates included nominees from departments all around the county, it seemed fitting that the first winner serves at the very department Chief Stone called home for half a century.

Award recipient Hatcher began his firefighting career as a volunteer with Palmetto Rural Fire Department, then joined DFD as a part-timer. Since becoming a full-time member of the department about five years ago, Hatcher has won the respect of his peers, who named him Firefighter of the Year in 2018 (an honor he shared with colleague Lt. Brandon Maloch).

Hatcher was nominated for the 2019 Stone Award by DFD Chief Pat Cavanaugh, who praised Hatcher’s tireless work ethic in a letter to the award committee.
“Myrick is the type of person that exemplifies exactly what Chief Stone set as an example to our firefighters,” said Cavanaugh. “He always puts the fire department and family first. He is always there to cover calls, come in when someone needs off. If there are any community projects to do he is the first one to show up and the last one to leave. Everything he is asked to do he does with a smile because he loves helping others! He is always among the top 5 call takers in the department and has been awarded the Firefighter of the Year in the past. On any given day he stays busy tidying up around the station and always looking to make the City of Darlington Fire Department a better place!”

Sponsored by the Stone family, the award is intended to celebrate the efforts of top-notch firefighters who carry on the traditions of service and camaraderie that Stone so cherished.
“It is our hope the trophy will be a constant reminder to Myrick, his family, friends and colleagues that their service is greatly appreciated and significant to the community they serve,” says Angie Stone Godbold. “Myrick’s efforts as an outstanding firefighter remind us of very much of how Daddy was as a young, eager firefighter when he started out.”

For his part, Hatcher says he was surprised to be singled out for this recognition, and feels greatly honored to be mentioned in the same breath as other DFD Firefighters of the Year, as well as Chief Jim Stone.
“I wasn’t expecting it (the Stone award), but I’m pretty proud to have it,” says Hatcher.”It was an honor to receive the award from Chief Stone’s family, and I hope that in the future I can keep honoring his memory and doing good for the department and the city. That’s really all I want, is to help out the city.”

Hatcher remembers Chief Stone as a consummate professional at fire scenes, a commander who would explain your tasks one time, clearly, and expect you to do your job right. He also recalls the chief’s legendary sense of playfulness, noting that Stone would never call him by his correct name until Hatcher joined DFD.

“I had to earn that honor,” Hatcher says with a smile, adding that once he was a member of the DFD family, Stone treated him like just that – family. Hatcher notes that Jim and Dot Stone even came to his home and congratulated him on winning Firefighter of the Year.
The Chief Jim Stone Award will be presented each year to one Darlington County firefighter, and nominations can be sent to Dot Stone, 410 Spring Street, Darlington, SC 29532 or via email at chiefjimstoneaward@gmail.com.

Author: Stephan Drew

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