Chief Eli Trivett, Jr., enjoyed his life as a family man, serving his country and others in the community and being a member of the brotherhood of firefighters in McDuffie County.
The 83-year-old Chief Trivett, who served as chief of the Washington Heights Volunteer Fire Department for several years, died at Doctors Hospital in Augusta last Friday. He was considered a pioneer of what is known today as the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services. For three decades, Chief Trivett fought fires - often times without protective clothing or the proper equipment to battle those fires.
Funeral services were held Monday at Washington Heights Baptist Church, where Chief Trivett served as a charter member. The veteran volunteer firefighter and U.S Navy veteran of World War II was laid to rest at Savannah Valley Memorial Gardens .
Serving as pallbearers at his funeral were McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Assistant Chief Stephen Sewell, Capt. Bobby Reynolds, Jason Burnley, Joe Vines, Capt. Kevin Perry and Chris Sanders. Other local firefighters, including Bruce Tanner, who serves as county fire chief, were honorary pallbearers.
"He was definitely a pioneer of our county fire services," said Chief Tanner. "He and others got the ball rolling to provide fire services in this county. What he did to promote fire services in this county will never be forgotten."
Chief Tanner explained that had it not been for men deeply dedicated to their community like Chief Trivett was to the Washington Heights area, "We, as a county fire department would not exist in our current form."
Chief Trivett used to visit his friends at the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services Headquarters, located near the intersection of Salem and Harrison roads, on a weekly basis, recalled Asst. Chief Sewell. He did that for the last two years.
"He'd come by and just sit and talk with us from a half hour on up to two hours, sometimes," said Asst. Chief Sewell. "We're going to miss those visits," added Chief Tanner.
In the early 90s, the Queen of Angels Catholic Church in Chief Trivett's beloved Washington Heights community experienced a fire that caused considerable heat and smoke damage throughout the building.
"I remember him saying, "Send me everything you got dispatch,"' said Asst. Chief Sewell, noting that he remembers his friend as being a quiet person.
At the time, city fire trucks also responded to the fire, rolling out an estimated 2,400 feet of water lines because the fire hydrants were so far away.
"He was just making sure he had everything he needed, if the fire got worse," said Asst. Chief Sewell.
Because of his years in the Navy, Chief Trivett never conformed to fire talk over the radio. Instead, of saying 10-4 at the end of a transmission, he preferred to say "Roger," said Chief Tanner.
"I used to ask him who "Roger' was," added Chief Tanner with a big smile.
Chief Tanner called him one of the most dependable people he's ever known.
"He was one of the most dependable, committed and dedicated persons I've ever known," said Chief Tanner.
Lt. Ed Lewis said he would always remember Chief Trivett "because he was always so concerned and interested in what was going at the fire department."
In 1988, Chief Trivett went to Oklahoma City, Okla., to get a new fire truck that had been purchased for the Washington Heights Department. On Monday, that same fire truck was used in his funeral procession.