A Low Country leader is stepping down. Lady's Island/St. Helena Island fire chief Clayton Ellis is retiring after more than 30 years of service.
He's seen a lot of changes over the years. In fact, as chief, he's built up the department from an all-volunteer force to over 60 paid firefighters.
"I just really loved my career and I will miss it," Chief Ellis told us.
Chief Ellis was one of 35 volunteer firefighters who started up the department because at that time they didn't have fire protection on the island. Within a few years, he became chief and took the department to where it is today.
"From one station, one truck, one pumper, to five stations, nine pumpers, two ladders, and two squads, four sedans," he said.
It's something he's dedicated most of his life building. "Night, day, middle of supper, middle of church, he's had to get up and go for 31 years," said incoming fire chief Bruce Kline.
Although it wasn't always easy, Chief Ellis says that's what he'll miss the most. "Responding to calls and helping people. I've spent the last 35 years helping people and I'm going to miss that."
Through building this department, Chief Ellis has made a big impact on the community and the men and women who serve it.
"I just had a 17-year anniversary," said Capt. Danny Williams. "It doesn't hold up to his 34, 35 years, but 17-year anniversary and I basically owe it all to Chief Ellis. He gave me a start in the fire service and he's given me guidance and leadership and he's pretty much been like a dad to me."
Chief Kline will be stepping up to the plate as chief of the Lady's Island-St. Helena Fire District the first of next month.