CONYERS - In its history, the Rockdale County Fire and Rescue has lost only one employee in the line of duty.
That man was Thomas Hurlbert, a firefighter and paramedic for RCFR for over 20 years. He would die in 2005 at the age of 54 of a heart attack while responding to numerous emergencies in one night.
Hurlbert's legacy within the fire department has lived on long after his passing. One major contribution from Hurlbert was the creation of the RCFR Honor Guard, which formed as a result of his passing, says RCFR Fire Chief Dan Morgan.
A year after his death, the Honor Guard celebrated Hurlbert's life at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF) Memorial Weekend, which is a ceremony held annually where firefighters and their families from across the nation gather together to honor the firefighters who have died in the line of duty. It usually boasts an attendance of nearly 1,000 people.
In 2006, the Honor Guards had a brick engraved with Hurlbert's name laid in place on a path with other memorial bricks at the ceremony. They've been able to travel back every year to the ceremony, with some guards even developing leadership roles within the NFFF for the weekend.
However, this year, the Honor Guards, which also does work in surrounding counties, is in danger of not being able to attend the event this year, which occurs next month.
According to Morgan, the Honor Guards don't have the funds to support a trip this year for its members. The eight-person group usually sends four members to the four-day event every October. The cost of the trip can be as much as $3,000, which includes shelter, transportation and food expenses, says Morgan.
The RCFR and the Honor Guards are hoping to get donations from the public to them make it back to the event.
"We're hoping to get the public to help us get to this memorial event," said Morgan. "It wouldn't be fiscally responsible for (RCFR) to pay for this."
This year, the Georgia Fallen Firefighters Foundation (GFFF) has setup a fund that will help get honor guards throughout the state to the NFFF memorial weekend.
"Your donation would not only be greatly appreciated, but would also serve a great cause," said RCFR Honor Guard Commander Scott McCord in a letter sent out to the community.
If anyone would like to make a donation to the fund contact McCord at 678-409-5518 for more details.