Charles Payne, Chief
Hurleyville Fire Department
Years of service: 28 years
Occupation: Supervisor, Plant Operations
Charles Payne was a kid, just 8 years old, when he decided to become a firefighter. He’d watched as the local volunteers extinguished a mattress fire and that was it. He would grow up and be just like them.
So as soon as he could - he had to wait until he turned 16 - he joined. He’ll tell you, though, that the first few years were challenging. Sure, the training was intense and there was so much to learn. It was responding, that, as a teen without a car, was the hardest part.
“So I rode a bicycle to calls,” he says.
Eventually, of course, he grew up, and now he has kids of his own.
“My kids love seeing me do what I love,” Payne says. “And I love the joy in their hearts when they go to the firehouse.”
Even his best days in the fire service are about kids, and while the pandemic had very few bright spots, Payne can point to one.
“Those birthday parades during COVID,” he says, those were great.
“We made those kids smile.”