‘Super-cool’ firefighter honored with Stone Award

Volunteer battalion chief Robert Garland received the 2nd Annual Chief Jim Stone Award for excellence in firefighting. He is pictured here with the award. PHOTO COURTESY RICKY FLOWERS/DCFD.

The 2nd Annual Chief Jim Stone Award, given to Robert Garland. PHOTO COURTESY RICKY FLOWERS/DCFD

Dot Stone, widow of Jim Stone, hugs Garland after he receives the award. PHOTO COURTESY RICKY FLOWERS/DCFD

Left to right: Jaycee Stone, Angie Stone Godbold, honoree Robert Garland, Jim Stone’s widow Dot Stone.

By Bobby Bryant, Editor


“Super-cool, calm and collected”: That’s how colleagues describe the winner of the 2nd Annual Chief Jim Stone Award for excellence in firefighting. Robert Garland, a volunteer battalion chief with the Darlington County Fire District, received the award last month at a private event. The award, open to nominees from any fire service in the county, is named for the late Jim Stone, a longtime city of Darlington fire chief and 50-year-firefighter. Garland, 67, has worked with the county fire district for about six years and has spent “his whole adult life” as a firefighter, including serving as assistant chief of the Darlington Fire Department, said Darlington County Fire District Chief Ricky Flowers. “He’s spent his entire career continuing to learn,” said Flowers. “He teaches firefighters. … He’s kind of the perfect blend of old-school firefighter and new tactics.” Nominations for the award are reviewed by Stone’s family and the winner chosen by them. Last year, the winner was Myrick Hatcher of the Darlington Fire Department. The Stone family has said they intend the award to celebrate the efforts of firefighters who carry on the traditions of service and camaraderie that Stone cherished. Flowers said the award was presented to Garland Dec. 21 at a private luncheon at the Darlington County Fire District headquarters. “He had no clue,” Flowers said. “We invited him to a lunch – a Christmas lunch.” Garland “was shocked – maybe the first time since I met him 15 years ago that he showed any emotion,” Flowers joked. “He really appreciated it.” Stone, then 78, died in February 2019. Within a few hours of his death at McLeod Regional Medical Center, a series of Darlington fire trucks and rescue vehicles arrived at the Florence hospital and led a funeral procession, taking Stone’s body back to Darlington. Officials arranged for Stone’s body to lie inside a flag-draped coffin at the Darlington County Courthouse for several hours before his funeral.

Author: Stephan Drew

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