Serving the Community — Cpt. David Headden, Summerville Fire Department
Like father, like son, Captain David Headden, 35, of Summerville is following in his dad’s footsteps at Station 4. His dad is a Captain at Station 1.
“I am a second generation fireman,” says Headden.
Headden has been with SFD for 18 years, 17 of which have been paid.
He grew up in Sangaree and while he was a senior at Stratford High School he took a vocational course at Oakley Vocation School, in auto mechanics.
“They allowed me to co-op at the fire department,” he explains, “so I would fill in, give a hand around the firehouse, do drills, run calls.”
“While I was still doing the co-op, Chief Richard Waring III, (the current chief’s dad), hired me while I was still in high school.”
“I was the first person to ever do that…it was a sort of school-to-work type of thing. I was only in school every other day (he had gone to summer school after his junior year to get ahead) for an hour and a half just to get my final credits.”
“I was hired [at SFD] in November, 1996 and I graduated high school in June, 1997.”
As captain, he rides front passenger side in the “captain’s seat.” He supervises the crew at Station 4 (near Azalea Square). He has a total crew of four and they run one engine - Engine 4.
If first on scene, they will assess the situation and run the scene until they transfer command to either the second truck on scene or to the Battalion Chief. Once command is transferred, they will go in.
He is trained in a multitude of things including hazmat, PICO, confined space and rope rescue, auto extrication, pump ops, as a safety officer and in leadership.
His worst experiences are those calls involving young kids, he says. “There was this elderly lady in a structure fire in Lincolnville,” he recalls, “we responded under mutual aid…we lost an elderly lady that night.” He says there have only been a handful of those awful calls over the course of his career.
His best call, he says, was an apartment fire. An all-night fire, SFD responded to with North Charleston, Old Fort and four SFD companies.
“We were the first pumper to an apartment fire. It was a two-story apartment complex and the building was burning pretty bad. There was a little girl trapped inside. Her dad had brought her out and then gone back in. Unbeknownst to him, she had followed him back in.
“We had to back out. After the fire died down enough, another crew went in for a secondary search and they found her. She had fallen through a hole the fire had burned through the floor and the ceiling had fallen on her [protecting her]. She was in the hospital for a while but she survived.”
His goal, he says, is “one of these days, before I retire, I would like to make Battalion Chief.”
“I love riding the engine and being captain…I am still excited coming to work every day.”
He even likes the 24-hour shift he works. “You form friendships.”
He has worked all the stations over his tenure, he says.
When not at work, he and his wife of almost 14 years, Jennifer - an RN in Labor and Delivery at Summerville Medical Center - love parenting their son, two-year-old Levi.
“I am a big family man and I love spending time with my wife and son.”
He is, he says, also a big deer hunter, enjoys fishing and is a racing fanatic - NASCAR.
“I used to drive a race car in high school,” he says, “from 1994 to 1998 at the Summerville Speedway, Myrtle Beach and Timmonsville. I won championships - 22 times in four years of racing.”
“My father owned the car and I had several sponsors including Taco Bell.”
In fact, that was how he met his wife.
“I had a race car in the mall and I met her through a friend.”
He also enjoys college football and is a Clemson fan.
He works part time driving trucks for Penske.
“Some people think we just sit around the firehouse,” he says, shaking his head. “Our day started as soon as we got here today [and every day], exercise, then a car crash, washing the truck then hydrant maintenance. We have to go to James Island for a Fire Prevention week thing from 6 to 9 p.m., ...we are on the go until 5 or 6 p.m. every day. We will spend about five hours a day on training.”
His life goal, he says, is “to be remembered as a good person, someone who would lend a hand when needed. I want to be the best father and husband I can be and I want to be able to retire and spend time with them [wife and son] and watch my son grow up.”