LAWRENCEVILLE -- On Sept. 19, Fire Chief Bill Myers said, 1,400 years of experience walked out the door by way of retirements.
Two days later, the great floods hit metro Atlanta, and the Gwinnett County Fire Department didn't miss a beat.
Friday, during a promotion ceremony at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, 66 firefighters received promotions and were praised for stepping up, saving lives and protecting property during the flood.
For Myers, the ceremony represented a group of men and women willing to "take the shot," "pull the cord," (a reference to ceasing production on a manufacturing line when something is wrong) and make the right decisions.
Myers said that while a lot of senior leadership has moved on, the knowledge they possessed has been passed down.
"They knew enough to train us and teach us," Myers said, "and we knew enough to listen. We have people ready to step up and fill the gap. Not only is this wave strong, but the next wave and the wave after that."
Promotions included 29 firefighters to driver engineer; 15 to lieutenant; nine to captain; seven to battalion chief; three to district commander; and two to assistant chief.
Myers was officially promoted to his current rank, also.
In addition to the confidence he has in his personnel, Myers thanked the residents of Gwinnett County and its leadership.
"I have to say that we are one of the most well-supported fire departments I know of," Myers said. "Especially when you hear of departments laying off or furloughing or closing stations ... we're still growing to meet the needs of the community."