When Statesboro Fire Department Battalion Chief Derrel Melton completes his final shift on Thursday, December 23, 2021 it will be the end of an era for the Melton family.  In fact this family has played an instrumental role in public safety in Bulloch County for seven decades.

Chief Melton has served our community as a firefighter for 41 years.  He began his firefighting career in 1980 as a volunteer and joined the eight man department full time in 1983.

He follows in the footsteps of his father the late Emory Melton, who was a pioneer in emergency service, and his brother Emerson Melton.

Derrel Melton
Chief Melton with long serving members and retirees of SFD who have worked with Melton Credit: SFD

“It was a great honor to become a full time firefighter when I joined the department.  There were only eight full time firefighters and when there was an opening it was very competitive,” said Chief Melton.  “I can honestly say it was the best career decision I could have made and I count it as a high point in my life.  SFD continues to be a great career option that I would highly recommend to anyone looking to serve our community.”

In the 1980’s there were a little over 5,000 students at Georgia Southern College and the population of the city wasn’t a whole lot bigger.

During his tenure he has served three fire chiefs, countless mayors, city councils and city managers.  He has witnessed the growth of the community and the department now with two stations and over 50 firefighters.  In addition the county has a staffed fire department.

Derrel Melton
Chief Melton with the firefighters from his shift Credit: SFD

Growing up with his dad, Emory who worked for a local funeral home and was one of the first certified EMTs in the county, serving people just comes natural.  Emory began driving ambulances in the 50’s when they were housed at the funeral home.  Later he was part of a small group of members of the local civil defense who raised the money to purchase the very first jaws of life.  Then became a member of the fire department in 1975.

“Emerson and I grew up in a home of caring and loving,” said Chief Melton.  “Pops was a great role model and mom continues to be our biggest supporter and fan.  Serving came naturally for all of us.”

Brother Emerson began full time with Statesboro Fire in 1978 and retired in 2010.

Derrel Melton
Chief Melton with Chief Grams Credit: SFD

“When I joined SFD Derrell was my very first shift commander,” said Tim Grams, Statesboro Fire Chief.  “In fact, many of our leadership has worked under Derrell during their career.  That speaks volumes to his legacy in this department.  He is a wonderful, selfless leader who lives by the high standards and examples he sets.”

In his retirement Chief Melton hopes to continue finding ways he can volunteer his time to help the department in any way he can be of service.

Certainly Chief Melton and the entire Melton family have left the Statesboro Fire Department and public service as a whole in our community much better than when they began.

“Not only SFD but also Statesboro and Bulloch County is extremely fortunate to have people like the Melton family who truly cares about this community and lives with a servant’s heart as their guidepost,” said Chief Grams.  “It is rare these days to find someone who dedicates over 40 years of their life helping their neighbors and serving others in extraordinary ways.”

I agree with Chief Grams, this family is part of the secret sauce that makes Statesboro a special place to call home.

It has been an honor to get to know this wonderful family and work with them in so many different ways over the past few decades.  I was fortunate enough to know his dad Emory and also had the good fortune of enjoying his mother Vilette’s homemade apple tarts on more than one occasion.

Congratulations Chief Melton on a job well done.  The Grice Connect family wishes you the best of luck in your retirement and future endeavors.

Herschel DeWayne Grice is the founder of Grice Connect an online news and information company in Statesboro, Georgia. DeWayne has been active in the media for over three decades. He brings a unique insight...