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SIMS — A veteran volunteer firefighter who was killed in a farming accident is being commemorated by his department.
Matthew Scott “Chew” Lamm died in September while working on a farm on Jonesy Road, and Sims volunteer firefighters he’d served with for 13 years were among the first responders. It was a tragedy that was felt deeply by all who knew the smiley 29-year-old, but Sims Fire Department officials commemorated Lamm’s service recently on the department’s first new fire truck in 36 years.
“One of the guys asked me if I noticed anything different about the new truck, and when I saw the number was Matthew’s firefighter number, I welled up,” said Lynda Sue Lamm, Matthew’s mother. “One of the wives showed me the ‘In memory of’ emblem, and it just overwhelmed me to know that he was loved like that.”
The department’s ladies’ auxiliary contributed $10,000 from fundraisers toward the truck’s $352,000 price tag and purchased two gold emblems that were placed on the sides of the truck cab.
“It just made this mama’s heart proud that they thought that much of my baby,” Lamm said.
Fire Chief Hunter Barnes said department members have spent about two years designing and ordering the truck. Matthew Lamm was a part of the process, but his death prompted them to commemorate his service, so the department’s first new truck since 1982 bears the unit number 1117.
“We designed every nut and bolt, so it is very authentic in the way it is set up,” Barnes said. “We knew we wanted to do something to honor him, and this felt right.”
The vehicle has a Freightliner commercial cab and Pierce Manufacturing truck body. Crews will spend the upcoming weeks installing department equipment and training on the truck. Barnes said he hopes the truck will be put into service in June.
“The fire department should be recognized for their closeness as a family and dedication to their members and all their work to help our community,” Lamm said. “I am very honored that Matthew will always be a part of this great organization.”
She said the department’s 21 members have been a real help since Matthew’s death.
“Matthew always loved and always enjoyed the fire department,” she said. “His brother was on the department for a while and his dad is a board member, so Matthew grew up in it. When he was probably 12 or 13 years old, he was eager to join, but he had to wait until he was 16 to be a junior fireman.”
The Sims Fire Department also recently received notice that the town’s state fire response rating was adjusted from 7 to 5 after about a year of work by the members.
“There was a lot of preparation of documents. We had to update our pre-plans for all our businesses, update the map with the county, make sure our training was up-to-date and the state assessed the district’s risk level by evaluating the water supply,” Barnes said. “Now on May 1, business and homeowners within the district should see a reduction in their premiums.”
The rating also takes into account the department’s response statistics to the roughly 200 fire and medical emergency calls it receives each year and mutual aid from neighboring departments.
“This is a 100 percent volunteer department,” Barnes said. “Some county departments have some paid personnel, but all of our members take time out of their lives to serve the community. And it took a lot of time to prepare for the ISO inspection to save the community money and improve our fire department.”