Inside a Bartow County fire station sits a special gift that was donated in memory of a fallen firefighter.
Adairsville resident Jeff Barker made an oak dining table and donated it to Bartow County Fire Station 12 on Sugar Valley Road in Cartersville right after Christmas as a memorial to his big brother, John, a firefighter at Station 3 in Euharlee who was killed in the line of duty almost 34 years ago.
“John was friendly and kind,” Barker said. “He would give you the shirt off his back. John had friends that were firefighters. [He] helped at the station when he was in high school and volunteered after high school before becoming a firefighter. A few months before he passed away, his fellow firemen led him to Christ.”
John Barker was in route to a fire in Euharlee on June 17, 1986, when he lost control of the water truck he was driving and was killed.
Because Barker lost his life in the line of duty, the Bartow County Fire Department posted the 22-year-old Euharlee resident’s photo on the BCFD website’s “Not Forgotten” page.
The idea to make a dining table for Station 12 sprang from Jeff Barker’s desire to build one for his sister-in-law, Carla Jefferson, who had “just won a battle with cancer,” he said.
“I also decided to build one for each of my four sisters [Ramonda, Rebecca, Helen and Jamie] for Christmas – my youngest sister [Jamie] has the table our father built so I built her nightstands,” he said. “[Sgt.] Payton Silvers from Station 12 saw my Facebook post of the tables and asked how much would I charge to build one for the station. I don't like to sell my pieces because I enjoy woodworking as a hobby, but I decided to build one in honor of my brother.”
Barker, 51, said his father, Raymond, made the large dining table that Jamie now has so the eight family members could all eat together.
“It was where we all came together as a family after we all got married and had families of our own,” he said.
The woodworker said it took him five days to build the 56-inch-by-44-inch handmade table, which can seat up to eight, and he delivered it to the station on Dec. 26.
“It started with Payton from the fire department requesting a table,” he said, noting he’s known Silvers since high school. “I have since built a couple of benches to go with the table that I gave to the fire department in early February.”
The department attached a plaque to the middle of the table that reads “In memory of BCFD Firefighter John C. Barker, LODD 6-17-1986,” and Capt. DeWayne Fuqua and Silvers dedicated the table to his memory on Jan. 31.
“As Jeff was building the table for us, we decided that we would dedicate the table on behalf of his brother for him,” Fuqua said. “We put the plate with the name and dates on the table when Jeff was there on the 31st. It was an honor for Jeff to build the table for us, and also, we will always remember our brother each time we sit down at the table.”