‘Most aren’t aware of just how much he has done’

Firefighter Joe Golden steps down as president of county association

Joe Golden and his wife, Brenda (Courtesy of the Baileyton Volunteer Fire Department)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Longtime president of the Cullman County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments (CCAVFD), Joe Golden stepped down Thursday night after serving 15 years in the position. Although he will no longer head the association, Golden said he does not intend to stop serving in the Baileyton Volunteer Fire Department.

“I have stepped down as president, but I’m not out of the fire service,” said Golden. “I am still a member of the Baileyton Fire Department.”

Golden previously served as chief of the Baileyton VFD, a department he’s been part of since 1988. He said the best he could recall, his tenure as chief was “16 to 17 years.”

Golden worked as a controller for Nicholson File before retirement and is a member of the Cullman County Community Development Commission.

Of his decision to step down s head of the CCAVFD, he said, “It’s time-consuming, but it was nothing I didn’t enjoy doing. I’m getting up toward 68 years old and I just thought it was time for the next generation to take over.”

Firefighters young and older have great respect for Golden and his commitment and service to the profession.

“I’ve always thought there’s much to be said about a man or woman who dedicates their life to the service of others. During my nine years in the volunteer fire service, I’ve met many great men and women who have a desire to sacrificially serve others, by providing fire department services to their community, their town, their city, their county and their state,” said Gold Ridge Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief Ryan Whisenhunt.

“’Big Joe’ Golden is one of those men. He has always been a leader that I look up to, that I have learned a lot from, and that I hope to see enjoy a happy retirement. I witnessed him serve exceptionally as a fire chief, while simultaneously serving as the association president. He took his positions seriously, being sure to work hard and do it with great integrity,” he said. “He was professional, he was organized, he was outspoken, and most importantly, he was passionate. He acted as the mediator between our fire departments, our local government and our state governments. Might I mention, he did all of it for FREE. He sacrificed a lot for our fire departments and ultimately the people.”

Continued Whisenhunt, “Over the last several years, I’ve heard him talk about his desire to see the ‘younger generation’ step up and take over, but I didn’t realize how soon that time would come. I want to publicly thank him for everything that he has done. A thank you doesn’t seem sufficient, but my heart is full of gratitude, for the hard work he has put into something and for many people, for nothing in return.”

According to his fellow firefighters, one of Golden’s biggest achievements is the CCAVFD Training Center in Vinemont.

“Joe was very instrumental in working for the Association. He worked very close with the county commission to obtain funds to help all of the county fire departments,” said Bethsadia Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief and Logan Volunteer Fire Department EMS Captain Maurice Reynolds. “Joe was directly involved in getting the training center in Vinemont built. This center is now available to all departments of the county for training needs.”

The CCAVFD’s EMS officer, Jeff Byars, said, “Joe’s impact on the volunteer fire service in Cullman County is immeasurable. Most aren’t aware of just how much he has done behind the scenes to promote the fire service here. The classroom building at our training facility wouldn’t be here if not for Joe’s hard work.”

The Association elected new officers at its meeting Thursday evening. They are:

  • President- Jason Doyle, Vinemont VFD
  • Tim Martin- 1st Vice President, West Point VFD
  • Jerad Guthrie- 2nd Vice President, Gold Ridge VFD
  • Toby Bates- Secretary/Treasurer, Logan VFD

The CCAVFD represents all 26 volunteer fire departments throughout Cullman County. Find out more at www.facebook.com/CullmanCountyAVFD.

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Christy Perry