Batesburg-Leesville, SC (Paul Kirby) – People came from everywhere Monday evening to pay their respects to the family of fallen Lexington County Fire Engineer Paul Quattlebaum. They were also there to remember the man, the Marine, the firefighter. Quattlebaum was killed last Friday when he was on-duty and working a wreck on US Hwy. 178 near the Samaria fire station. During the visitation and viewing, a line of people stretched out and across the street as folks waited their turn to say their goodbyes.
Firefighters and other Department of Public Safety employees also wanted to attend the viewing and visitation that was held at the Barr-Price Funeral Home on Main Street in Leesville. Over the last several days, the fire service’s management had developed a plan that would provide trucks and manpower that would rotate throughout the county’s fire stations giving them staffing while the on-duty crews took turns going to the visitation. They would be augmented by trucks from neighboring departments as needed. It was a good plan undone quickly by emergencies. That’s when crews did what they do best, help.
By all descriptions, Paul Quattlebaum lived to help others. He had served in the US Marine Corps and had worked with the fire service 22-years. It was that duty to assist that had him in the highway last Friday. It was who he was and that was what he did until the moment he died.
Likewise, the on-duty men and women who wanted to go and visit Monday night are also servants. They help by nature. Even though seeing the Quattlebaums was important to them, their work came first. Their first-rate service to the community was the most fitting tribute they could offer their fallen family member.
As trucks and personnel raced to a house fire, a wreck, a shooting, and other emergency calls, the crews made it happened. Trucks moved here and there, and the friends pitched in. West Columbia responded when needed and at one point, Cayce loaned Lexington County the resources to man a station that was out. The Irmo Fire District pitched in and made a difference too. They all did what they needed to get the calls answered and the Lexington County personnel to the funeral home.
Quattlebaum's funeral will be held Tuesday afternoon.
Quattlebaum will be laid to rest Tuesday afternoon. While people are there mourning, as speakers eulogize and remember, as friends whisper quietly amongst themselves, somewhere across this vast county personnel still respond. Most believe that’s what Quattlebaum would want, his friends to serve just as they do every day of the year.