Editor’s note: Through 2021, we will profile a firefighter, first responder or law enforcement officer each month.
Oconee county native Daniel Culbertson has followed the family tradition of serving as a volunteer firefighter with Oconee Fire Rescue.
“I’m a third generation firefighter. My dad was before [me] and my granddad before him,” he said. “I just wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
Culbertson was able to observe the responsibility associated with public service from an early age. As a young boy, he hung out at fire stations with his father and grandfather.
This July, Culbertson will celebrate 10 years serving with the fire department. When he is not putting out fires, he works at a glass company and as a diesel mechanic.
All 10 years, he has been based out of Station 1. He started as a regular volunteer firefighter and eventually became a training officer and later a captain.
When en route to emergencies, Culbertson has mostly served as a driver, though he has helped suppress some more challenging blazes as well.
One of his more interesting fire calls happened about a year-and-a-half ago. He was at work when he heard about the call for the Benson’s Bakery fire in Bogart.
After work, he went to the bakery to help tame the still-smoldering blaze. Overall, it took Clarke and Oconee firefighters four hours, from mid-afternoon to early evening to get the fire under control.
Culbertson said he enjoys getting to work with different fire suppression tools and learning about how different fires burn.
“[I also enjoy] the camaraderie… and I learn from the older guys in the department how I can help the younger guys,” he said. “They teach me something, and I can teach the younger ones how to do it.”
Culbertson’s main motivation to serve with the fire department is altruistic.
“It’s [about] giving back to the community and helping people out in their time of need,” he said.