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Buckhannon Fire Department remembers, honors Joe Bennett on Friendly Way Day

Joe Bennett’s family stands before the newly installed helmet in his honor on the Friendly Way Fire Rescue Recognition Wall.

May 20, 2019

BUCKHANNON, WV: On Friday, members of the Buckhannon Fire Department gathered with friends and family of Joe Bennett and City representatives to remember the life and service of the late Joe Bennett during the annual Friendly Way Day celebration.

In addition to the official proclamation read by Mayor David McCauley and remarks from Fire Chief J.B. Kimble, family and friends shared their memories of Bennett during his time as a firefighter. Sue Kitzmiller read a letter from Amy (Bennett) Thorne, Joe’s daughter, who lives in Florida and could not attend the event.

During the ceremony, the Buckhannon Fire Department unveiled the Joe Bennett fire duty uniform coat sculpture, crafted by Bennett’s son-in-law, Andy Thorne. The piece was sculpted in clay and then cast in bronze at a foundry and now hangs on the wall of the duty station alongside active members’ uniforms. Numerous firefighters and community members donated funds for the materials to craft the work, and Thorne donated his time. 

The Buckhannon Fire Department is a rural, combination fire department comprised of twenty-four members. Of these members, seventeen are volunteers and seven are paid firefighters. The department has members trained in fire suppression, incident management, hazardous materials mitigation, vehicle and machinery rescue, confined space rescue, water rescue, dive operations and basic life support.

The Buckhannon Fire Department has a fleet of seven apparatus, one UTV, one hazardous materials containment trailer, and two boats. Our fleet consists of four engine/pumpers, one aerial, one rescue and two support vehicles. The first due area, or area of primary responsibility, spans over the City of Buckhannon and beyond. The department provides services to over 12,000 residents in the first due area and over 25,000 within additional areas covered by mutual and automatic aid agreements.



Good afternoon, and welcome to our City’s 13th annual celebration of Friendly Way Day.  Back in 2007, we began this yearly recognition of those who’ve given so much to sustaining our wonderful Buckhannon Fire Department, by honoring the man who perhaps gave the most of anyone, the late Bud Bennett, aka “Ole Friendly.”  The street that runs through our public safety complex parking lot was named Friendly Way after Bud Bennett. That street now runs through the heart of our downtown from East Main Street all the way to South Locust Street, not far from our previous fire station located at the corner of Main & Locust.  Bud Bennett was simply one of the most giving yet colorful characters in our City’s history. We lost Bud 28 years ago, & we’re still talking about the ole guy! Please indulge me while I read the insert that we’ve featured in every program since we started Friendly Way Day-

Since 2007, our Fire Department has now honored 12 other individuals who collectively gave centuries of service to this department, to protect the lives & property of all residents of our B-U community.  They are all heroes, & six of those 13 total honorees are no longer with us. All 13 are listed in your program. We all know their names. As a result of this annual exercise- we must never allow those that come after us to ever forget those who came before them.  The legacies of these 13- their selflessness, their service- must never be forgotten. We will always honor & love them for all that they did, & for all that they sacrificed for us. Today, we add Joe Bennett to our growing list of honorees. Joe gave 26 years of his life that ended way too early, to this Department, and to our community.  We continue to recognize him & thank Joe for his dedicated service as a firefighter.

Friendly Way Day is the third in the trilogy of recognitions that our City conducts each year, preceded by Webb Grubb Police Officer Recognition Day, & Stockert’s Service to Youth Champion Day during Strawberry Festival week.  The police department has three Webb Grubb honorees, & SYCC has 14 Service to Youth Champions, so- cumulatively during these three special days, our City as of today will have honored 30 people who’ve given their all for our B-U community.  We thank all of our Friendly Way Day honorees for their tireless contributions to making our community the safest & very best it can be. From Bud Bennett to Joe Bennett, we thank them all. May our Red Wall long endure, & may our next generation of firefighters aspire to someday see their helmet placed upon it joining the greatest of the great.  Bless the members of our Buckhannon Fire Department-


WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Buckhannon resolved in 2007, to honor the memory of our City’s longtime Fire Chief, Carl R. “Bud,” “Ole Friendly” Bennett, by naming & dedicating the newly established municipal street upon which our City’s Public Safety Complex is located as – “Friendly Way”; and,

WHEREAS, the Council further resolved thereafter to annually honor other members of our City fire department family who have substantially contributed to the high quality of life enjoyed by our Buckhannon-Upshur residents, while embodying the essence of Buckhannon’s “friendly way” as part of their public service to our community during an annual celebration to be known as “Friendly Way Day”; and,

WHEREAS, our past honorees were Bud Bennett in 2007, Harley Brown in 2008, Buddy Ray Zickefoose in 2009, Paul Mackey in 2010, Jack Ford in 2011, Larry Mackey in 2012, Jerry Wilfong in 2013, Wyatt Long in 2014, Dave Long in 2015, Kevin Goodwin in 2016, Charlie Shaffer in 2017, & Paul Morrison in 2018; and,

WHEREAS, our City is proud & privileged now to honor & celebrate the life & many contributions of the late “JOE BENNETT,” who served our Buckhannon Fire Department as a firefighter & department contributor in countless ways for 26 years (1980-2006) – on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 3:00 p.m. during a public ceremony to be held at our Public Safety Complex at “One Friendly Way” during our City’s 13th, annual “Friendly Way Day.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, DAVID W. McCAULEY, MAYOR OF THE CITY OF BUCKHANNON, pursuant to the power & authority duly vested in me, do hereby proclaim Friday, May 17, 2019, to be “FRIENDLY WAY DAY” throughout our City of Buckhannon. I further proclaim that our City’s 2019 honoree shall be the late, JOE BENNETT.  Further pursuant to the approval of our City Council, I hereby direct the installation of a permanent placard upon both the “Red Wall” & the “Buddy Bench,” located along Friendly Way between our City’s Public Safety Complex & Stockert Youth/Community Center to forever honor & recognize JOE BENNETT.

I further urge all residents & Festival visitors alike to join our City in celebrating the life of the late JOE BENNETT along with the other members of his Fire Department family & our City government family, & friends near & far at our 13th, annual “Friendly Way Day” public ceremony to be conducted at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, May 17, 2019 at Buckhannon’s Public Safety Complex.  May every Firefighters’ Parade Day conducted during our annual Strawberry Festival now & always be known as “Friendly Way Day” in honor & memory of our late, beloved Fire Chief, Carl R. “Bud,” “Ole Friendly” Bennett, & further in tribute to & appreciation of the public service of substantial contributors to our City including our 2019 honoree, longtime firefighter, & BFD contributor who was greatly loved & respected by his firefighter family, the late JOE BENNETT.

Given under my hand and official seal of The City of Buckhannon, this 17th day of May, 2019

David W. McCauley, Mayor

Left to Right: Buddy Ray Zickefoose, Rick Kitzmiller, Brian Elmore, George Stump, Tom Anderson, Jamie Greene, Jim Gregory, Jeff Armentrout, Wyatt Long, Mitch Tacy, David McCauley, Dave Long, Dion Wamsley, Steve Long, Glenn Davis, Jerry Wilfong, J.B. Kimble, and Steve Michael

For questions, contact Callie Cronin Sams,