Upstate volunteer firefighters prove age is just a number

Upstate volunteer firefighters prove age is just a number
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 12:05 AM EDT
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HICKORY TAVERN, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Two volunteer firefighters in Laurens County are proving that age is just a number.

Jean Swanson and Ann Jenkins have a combined 62 years of volunteering at the Hickory Tavern Fire Department.

“Dedicated. Loving. Friends,” said Chief Lance Roper.

Swanson joined the department 44 years ago. Since then, her husband and son have served as chief. Jenkins came on board 18 years ago.

“We feel like we’ve got to keep up the image for the community that these fireman would have,” said Swanson.

The pair have run 4,289 calls combined in the last seven years.

“This is one of the best fire departments in the whole county and we all work together. It’s not just me, it’s not just Ann. It’s all of us,” said Swanson.

Both in their 70s, Ann and Jean are usually the first ones on the scene at a call, no matter the time of day.

“Jean has been in the service for a long time. She’s somebody I can depend on to be there,” said Jenkins.

That means all day, any day.

“When she’s taking a shower, she’ll text me, ‘I’m in the shower.’ I’ll text her I’m in the shower, so we know it’s going to take us a little bit longer to get to the fire department,” said Swanson with a smile.

The pair, who even go on trips together, have also gone through similar life situations, with each losing a husband but gaining a best friend.

“We are family,” said Jenkins.

That bond is why Roper says the department wouldn’t be what it is without them.

“I really personally don’t want to envision a fire department without Jean and Ann,” he said.

And the two can’t envision themselves without the department.

“I don’t know what I would do when I would quit with this because it’s just been part of my life for so long. That’s what they say, slow down what’s going to happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but we better not slow down, I guess,” they said laughing.