Danny Gulledge ’96: A Pioneer Hero
Lt. Danny Gulledge ’96 is one of Spartanburg Methodist College’s true alumni heroes. A firefighter with the Simpsonville Fire Department, he, along with his colleagues, is keeping the Greenville area safe each day.
Gulledge has a wealth of experience, having been fighting fires for over 20 years. While some moments of his day may resemble an episode of Chicago Fire, much of his day is spent serving his community in different ways. “There really isn’t a typical day,” Gulledge explains. Some days are spent checking off important tasks such as cleaning and maintaining the trucks and other equipment. On other days, the team works out, runs drills and performs hands-on training.
Then there are the calls: Gulledge says that the fire department responds to most emergency calls these days. In addition to fire response, Gulledge and his team respond to vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and hazardous materials situations. Special rescue response is also handled by the fire department, including trench and swift water rescue.
What drives a man to work 24-hour shifts and put himself in the face of danger? “Having the ability to come into the lives of people, at what is probably their worst time, and having a positive impact,” Gulledge says.
“We arrive into chaotic situations and bring some sort of calmness with our actions. The ability to serve people with the knowledge and experience I have gained through the years is very satisfying.”
Another hat Gulledge wears is community educator. He particularly enjoys getting out into the community and mentoring the youth in Greenville. “Especially in the summer, children come to the station, and we go over fire prevention. They really love to climb in the fire truck,” he laughs. Ten years ago, the department started a puppet show program to educate younger children. The puppet show visits the elementary schools in the Greenville area and teach the children about fire prevention in an entertaining way.
So what inspired Gulledge to want to be a firefighter? Planning to be a civil servant, and specifically a police officer, he enrolled in the Criminal Justice program at SMC. While volunteering for the local fire department, he was immediately attracted to the idea of being a firefighter. After graduation, Gulledge completed additional education at USC Upstate and trained with the South Carolina Fire Academy.
Gulledge is thankful for his time at SMC. “I really got a great education. It paved a path for me.” Faculty member Duane Everhart, chair of the Criminal Justice Department at the time, was a very positive influence in Gulledge’s life, personally and professionally. He also attributes SMC’s small, close-knit community to helping him reach his goals. “There are so many opportunities that help you find your way,” Gulledge says. He hopes current and incoming SMC students get involved and make the most of the many activities the school has to offer. “Don’t isolate yourself,” he advises. “Experience the different parts of campus. Get involved with the community.”
While he may be a hero in the public’s eyes, Gulledge views his roles as husband and father as his most important. “My wife and kids are the most important thing. It is important to have a strong support system at home. Since I am on shift for 24 hours and participate in a lot of training and continuing education, my wife has to wear a lot of different hats while I am gone. I try to spend time with my boys outside hunting, fishing, camping, boating and supporting them in their sports pursuits.”
Thank you, Lt. Danny Gulledge, for dedicating your life to being a first responder and taking risks each day to make sure your community is safe and protected. You are a Pioneer hero, and your college is very proud to call you an alum.