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Seventy years of service and the 86th birthday of Gaston’s deputy fire chief Ed Porter Sr. were honored Monday night.

State Insurance Commissioner Mike Causey presented Porter the Order of the Guardian, the agency’s highest honor.

Causey not only honored Porter, but the department as well. “I have used this fire department as a model all over the state for how to recruit volunteers in the fire service. We’ve got a whole roomful of cadets here. A lot of firefighters have come through the kids camp here. It’s the biggest one I’ve seen.”

After presenting Porter the order, Causey led the audience in singing Happy Birthday to the long-time firefighter.

“I just want to take the time to thank you for your decades of service,” the commissioner said. “I can’t say enough about what you’ve meant to this community, the fire service and not only Northampton County but the state of North Carolina.”

Porter, who had thought the evening was to honor community heroes, said he was surprised. “I certainly appreciate those who cared enough to come out this evening. What I’ve done in life I give God the praise. I thank the Lord each day for the new day. I know I can’t do what I used to, but the Lord has blessed me. You being here is a blessing to me.”

Causey said the Order of the Guardian awards are few and far between, “But usually it’s somebody that’s been in the fire service or has given special service to the community for 40 or 50 years. I don’t recall any of these awards that I’ve presented to anyone for 70 years so that’s a record for me presenting the awards. You’re an inspiration to me and I know you’re an inspiration to the rest of the fire service in North Carolina for your positive attitude and being a role model.”

Causey said, “The young people you’ve brought through the fire camp and encouraged people to join the fire service, I just thank you for that.”

Cooper, Tillis letters

Gaston Lieutenant Cody Cooke read Porter letters from Governor Roy Cooper and Senator Thom Tillis.

Cooper said in his letter, “I’m honored to congratulate you for the celebration of your 86th birthday. I know this is a special time for you and your family. I would also like to thank you on your 70 years of service as a first responder. I’m grateful for you and your willingness to put your life on the line to protect others from danger.”

Cooper’s letter continued, “As a first responder and instructor you make it possible for other firefighters, rescue squads, and emergency medical personnel to learn from your experience.”

Tillis said, “I’m honored to join your family, friends, and community in recognizing your 70 years of service to your community. You have made a difference to the state and I applaud you for your great work. As you continue to serve, know that you and your family are in our thoughts and prayers.”

In response to the letters from Cooper and Tillis, Porter said, “I give God the credit. I have been blessed to serve.”

Commenting on the slide show which played before the ceremony began, Porter said, “I had the privilege of serving on the Baltimore County Police Department for 20 years and six months. That was an honor. I’m blessed, although I didn’t look at it at that time in that way but I spent six years in the Army National Guard. I thank the Lord that I’ve been blessed to serve in his ministry since about 1972.”

Recognition by commissioners

Paul Nowell, who read a resolution from the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, said, “It’s an honor and privilege to stand before you tonight.”

The resolution said Porter has dedicated his life to the fire service to protect life and property from loss from fire and other emergency situations. 

The resolution also gave a snapshot of Porter’s early fire service beginning with the Rosedale Volunteer Fire Department in Baltimore County in 1953 when he was 16. He became a lifetime member in 1983.

His service with the police department began in1959 until his retirement in 1980 as a lieutenant.

In 1983 Porter moved to Northampton County to serve as preacher and joined Gaston Rescue, Fire and EMS where he currently serves as deputy chief. 

In 1989 Porter was hired by Halifax Community College and served as the fire and EMS coordinator and department chair of the criminal justice department. He continues to teach as an instructor.

At the age of 86, the resolution noted, “Mr. Porter is still active and even climbs onto the fire engine to respond to calls for service in the community.”

Said the resolution: “The Northampton County Board of Commissioners finds it is in the best interest of the county and citizens to recognize, honor, and thank Mr. Porter for his 70 years of service.”