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Sayers (far right) with members of the department in 1985 with two new pumpers from Chambersburg, Penn.

Familiar faces retiring from city

By Leigh Anne and Michael Butler

Mickey Sayers

The protection provided by first responders is akin to the service provided by the nation's armed forces. It's also something many of us take for granted.

Mickey Sayers is someone who understands the role and has embraced it. Sayers served full-time for 37 years with Alabama National Guard. He retired in 2006.

This year, Sayers has stepped down from his volunteer service as a firefighter after 35 years of duty.

"I've always enjoyed helping people," said Sayers. "I got involved because some of my friends were involved."

His work with the Tallassee Volunteer Fire Department began in September of 1980 under Fred Piper.

"I started at the bottom and worked my way up, even to chief in 2002," he stated. "I've served many different roles from firefighter to assistant sergeant, sergeant, assistant chief and chief."

Captain John Rogers, Chief Travis Jones and Sayers

Sayers worked most of his years in Tallassee but also worked in Friendship for a few years while a resident there. When the Tallassee Volunteer Firefighters Association was formed in 1985, Sayers trained to become an Emergency Medical Technician, while taking his Firefighters 1 certification course. He served for an EMT for seven years."It was hard on my family because my kids were younger then. I worked full-time during the day and completed the courses at night," Sayers recalled. "Training is a very important tool with firefighing. You really have to think about things when you go into a burning house."

Sayers, who turns 64 this week, was one of two firemen to respond on his first call, an unoccupied mobile home in 1980. "When we started, there were only about seven or eight volunteers. Back then you got a call on the telephone. You'd have to respond in street clothes. You'd have very little gear, if any. Today we average between 30-35 volunteers."

Several agencies were called out for the Hotel Talisi fire in November of 2009. Sayers was among those to respond downtown in the early morning hours.

"(It) was the longest and hardest fire I ever fought," he said. "A fire like that is a lot of hard work and long hours. It took about 12-15 hours."

Chief Travis Jones estimated that Sayers responded to more than 2,800 service calls having logged more than 4,200 hours of training.

"(He) has always been someone I had a great deal of respect for and looked to as a father figure," said Jones. "I will truly miss having him around to lean on for his advice and wisdom that only comes from age and experience."

Sayers is looking forward to more mission trips with First Baptist Church and more leisure time with his family.

"I've dedicated a lot of time to the fire department. Now, that my wife Marilyn has retired, I want to be able to spend time with her, the grandkids and family. I love the idea that if something comes up now, we can just go and do it."

As for the connection to the fire department, Sayers says he'll keep in touch.

"I'm going to miss the friendships with all of the guys. It's not like I'll be a stranger though. I only live two blocks away."

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