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Just after 2 p.m. today, Aug. 7, a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office communications officer will issue a countywide pager tone for “Indian Land 7 to call the sheriff’s office.”
The 300-plus volunteer firefighters around the county wearing their pagers will bow their heads as that tone and short message sounds three total times.
But, there will be no answer to the three requests as “Indian Land 7” makes his final call.
Undoubtedly, the tears will fall as one of their own – Indian Land Volunteer Fire Dept. Lt. Ben Moore, a captain of Charlotte Fire Department – is laid to rest behind Osceola Methodist Church.
Moore, a longtime firefighter whose love of community became a career, died Saturday, Aug. 3, while vacationing with his wife in New York. The father of two was 44 years old.
“Everyone in this family is hurting,” said Stephen Blackwelder, a childhood friend of Moore. “Please keep them in your prayers.”
Moore became a volunteer firefighter at Station 10 a little more than a quarter of a century ago in 1987.
A former Indian Land Rescue Squad member, at one time Moore was considering a career in nursing, but fell in love with firefighting.
“I grew up with him,” Blackwelder said. “Imagine the most gentle, kindhearted person you know and that’s who he was. That’s the best way to describe him. He cared about his family, about people and about his church. He was a farmer who loved his family, horses and his community. That’s him in a nutshell.”
After serving in several capacities, including election by his peers as chief of Indian Land Volunteer Fire Department, Moore joined the Charlotte Fire Department in 1994.
Capt. Rob Brisley, public information officer for Charlotte Fire Department, said the shock of Moore’s sudden and unexpected death was nothing short of overwhelming.
“Our fire chief (Jon Hannan) gave a directive for all Charlotte firefighters to wear mourning bands over their badges until sunset the day of Moore’s service to give him the respect he deserves.”
A little more than three years ago – in June 2010 – Moore was promoted to captain and assigned to Ladder 26 – B Shift at Charlotte’s Station 26 near the intersection of South Tryon Street and Westinghouse Boulevard.
Charlotte Fire Department has 42 total stations, eight battalions, 41 engines and 15 ladders as well as specialized rescue vehicles. Its daily strength is 256 firefighters.
The coverage area of Station 26 includes a large manufacturing corridor, residences and sections of Interstates 77 and 485, as well as Carowinds theme park on the S.C./N.C. border.
“That’s a two-piece station with a ladder and an engine,” Brisley said. “It’s a busy firehouse that serves and responds to a wide variety of emergency calls.”
Brisley was among a group of Charlotte and Indian Land firefighters who escorted Moore’s body back to Lancaster County late Monday afternoon, Aug. 5. Moore’s family received friends Tuesday, Aug. 6, at Hartley-Burgess Funeral Home.
Funeral services are 1 p.m. today, Aug. 7, at Osceola United Methodist Church, 6575 Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521 North), Indian Land, with burial to follow in the church cemetery.
Though the Charlotte Fire Department has taken the lead with preparations, Blackwelder said Lancaster County Fire Service and the Indian Land Fire Department are helping.
“We’re assisting them in any way we can,” Blackwelder said.
“As big as the fire service is, we are a tightknit group,” Brisley said. “We’re grateful a loss like this is rare.”
Contact copy editor Greg Summers at (803) 283-1156