story by Jordan Pupa
Firefighters need to be ready to move at a moment’s notice and always need to be prepared with the right equipment. What many people may not realize is that there are certain retailers that provide high-quality firefighting gear to meet their needs. Wally’s Fire & Safety Equipment, Inc. in Mullins, a family business founded by Wally Elliott in 1980, is one of those places. Nobody else could possibly have a better idea of how to provide value to firefighters than someone with experience in the field themselves.
Though currently retired from active firefighting, Wally has served every position with the Mullins Fire Department from Firefighter to Chief. He has served as an Adjunct Instructor for the SC Fire Academy where he taught classes all over the state. He also serves on the Advisory Board for several of the manufacturers that he represents. Wally saw a need for a good solid provider of firefighting equipment for SC and NC. He was taken under the leadership of another firefighting equipment provider that showed him the ropes and introduced him to many key players in the business. This kind man’s leadership helped Wally see the potential in the business.
So, what does the business offer? Wally’s Fire & Safety Equipment, Inc. covers all of SC and the lower region of NC. “We offer a full line of firefighting equipment that would include everything a firefighter might use or wear or put on a fire truck, with the exception of the truck itself,” explains Wally. “Firefighting methods have become very complex over the last few years and we are aggressive in our efforts to stay on the cutting edge with all the technologies.” Wally and his team attend regional and state meetings, training classes, and conferences to continually stay in touch with their customers. Many of Wally’s family members, including his wife, daughter, son, and sister-in-law, play important roles in the business. They also have one longtime employee that they consider to be family.
Wally believes Wally’s Fire & Safety Equipment, Inc. is unique because they offer a high level of personal attention and service to their customers. It is important to Wally and his staff to provide top of the line products. “We want to blend ‘old school’ customer service with today’s technological capabilities,” explains Wally. “When our customers contact us with an order, we enjoy actually having conversations with them about the products they are using. In doing so, we sometimes find they are requesting the wrong product or we can suggest a new product that is more user-friendly than the product they are currently using. That’s what customer service is all about; helping the customer.” Their job is very serious because they are providing tools and equipment that will go in the hands of firefighters, who arguably have the most dangerous job in the world, and place their lives on the line in order to save others.
Now that the family has been in the business for nearly 40 years, a personal relationship has been built between the fire departments and Wally’s Fire. “When we visit these departments, I know many by name. I’ve watched their children grow up and they’ve watched mine,” explains Wally. “When I first joined the fire department, I admired the relationships that the then department Chiefs had with each other, their firefighters, and the families of these people. I wanted to have that. And now I do. I think everyone should think their job is special and we certainly do at Wally’s Fire.”
Equipped with an ultra-high performance LCD display that greatly increases brightness and contrast, the Bullard QXT lets firefighters see more clearly in smoke and direct sunlight. Bullard QXT can exceed eight hours of continuous run time for the ultimate performance in fire conditions.
pictured above, left to right: Jeff Black, Shelia Smith, Wally Elliott, Angie Elliott & Boone Elliott, not pictured: Jess Turner
Wally Elliott also owns Diamond E Farm, a working family farm in Mullins that he and his wife, Angie, live on with their nine Labrador Retrievers. Wally is also a Deacon and Sunday School teacher at Mullins First Baptist Church. Wally and Angie share an outreach ministry where they travel with and use their dogs in a Christian based Retriever demonstration named “The Roxy Ministry.”