Fischer Bateman loves firetrucks.
He loves their sirens.
He loves to see them going up and down the road.
And he loves firefighters.
“Since Nov. 29, 2018, he’s been obsessed with firefighters and firetrucks and all of that good stuff,” said his mother, Krystal Fischer.
On that day, young Fischer’s 4-year-old sister, Addy Grae Bateman, didn’t survive a house fire.
Firefighters from the Orangeburg Department of Public Safety responded to 934 Green St. with sirens blaring and lights flashing around 12:34 a.m.
Krystal Fischer and her son survived with minor injuries.
She said young Fischer has been drawn to firefighters and firetrucks ever since.
“My family is living proof that firefighters are angels who walk among us,” said his father, Townsend Bateman.
For young Fischer’s third birthday on Aug. 31, firefighters surprised him.
“We’d just cut the cake and he had that spoon held up to his mouth and heard the whoop-whoop,” said his mother.
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“I said, ‘What’s that?’ and he said, 'That’s a firetruck!' " she said.
With cake icing still on his lips, he left his birthday party table to see what awaited him outside: seven firefighters and four firetrucks.
He stood in wide-eyed amazement. A smile beamed.
Firefighters took turns posing for photographs with young Fischer. Some hoisted him up into the trucks, where he sat in the driver’s seat, tried on a firefighter’s helmet and sounded the sirens.
Firefighters signed their names on a helmet and gave it to him before they left.
A family friend and photographer, Bruce Creamer, captured the smiles and joy.
“Those trucks they drove that day aren’t nearly as big as their hearts and we are so very thankful,” Townsend Bateman said.
Mark Whetstone of the Edisto Fire Department said he'd heard that young Fischer liked firetrucks.
He soon spoke with Krystal Fischer and assured her, “We’ll have a firetruck there.”
“We figured we’d make this kid’s day,” he said.
It wasn’t long before he spoke with the fire chiefs at Cordova, Canaan and Bolentown.
Those departments also wanted to help make the 3-year-old’s birthday special.
The following departments and firefighters participated: Michael O’Cain of Cordova, Clinton Metts of Canaan, Mark Whetstone of Edisto and Logan Hughes, Ashley Shoemaker and Bryson Whetstone, all of Bolentown.
“To put a smile on Fischer’s face was worth it,” Whetstone said. “To be honest, they were a blessing to us more than we were to them.”