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Volunteer, vet praised for fire service
Roy Born accepts congratulations from Forsyth County Fire Chief Danny Bowman on his upcoming retirement. - photo by Autumn McBride

The Forsyth County Fire Department is saying goodbye to two of its own this month.

A.J. Pritchett, who has served as a volunteer firefighter since 1995, is retiring from the department and moving with his family to Vermont, where a new job awaits.

Roy Born is retiring after serving 11 years as the department's building maintenance worker.

Both were joined by family and friends at separate receptions held recently.

During a gathering at Fire Station 10, Pritchett recalled the lessons he'd learned along the way, like how to never take a scene for granted and "sometimes you're somebody's last hope."

He also thanked the firefighters with whom he has worked over the years.

"I've been inspired by each and every one of you guys," he said. "Station 10 is my home. I love this station. I love the people we have here ... there's not a better department. I appreciate the fact that I've been allowed to be a part of it."

Pritchett, who also served as county commissioner from 2001-04, said he plans to volunteer in Vermont once he gets settled in.

"I just made a commitment to it and there are so many people that have done the same thing," Pritchett said of his public service. "I'm not unique. I just love it too much."

Pritchett's daughter, Lyndsie, said she'll be joining her father in Vermont after she graduates this spring from Lambert High School.

She said it was an honor that so many people came to the reception to support him.

"It shows that he's made a big impact in other people's lives and he'll continue to do that even after we move," she said.

Fire Chief Danny Bowman, who got his start in 1968 with the Atlanta Fire Department, said he has never known anyone in his career with more dedication than Pritchett.

He noted that Pritchett got up in the middle of the night, left his family and responded to "tens of thousands of calls" in his personal vehicle.

"There is no possible way any fire chief or any fire department can thank him properly," Bowman said.

Pritchett received a certificate commemorating his service with the department. Bowman also announced that a radio would be retired in Pritchett's honor.

The next day, fire department employees, friends and family members filled a room at the Public Safety Complex for Born's send-off.

Bowman thanked Born for his hard work keeping the fire stations and other department buildings in good repair and operation.

"Lord knows he has logged some miles taking care of this department from behind the scenes," Bowman said. "We'll always remember Roy, and he'll always be one of us."

He thanked Born for his service both to the fire department and to America, since he served in the Vietnam War in 1966 and 1967.

"He served his country as well as he has served this fire department and his family," Bowman said.

Born started with the department in 2000, following a job laying tile and previous work experience in all phases of construction.

He logged regular hours, but was on-call 24 hours, seven days a week.

"It was always stuff like having a broken water line or the furnace won't work -- they hate that more than anything," Born said.

Working alongside the firefighters was a pleasant experience, he said.

"They're all great," he said. "When I needed help doing something, I'd say 'Hey, could you give me a hand over here?' If I needed one or two, I'd have three or four coming to help me."

Firefighters are part of one big family, Born said, and he figured he's as close to being part of that family as anyone can be without actually becoming a firefighter.

Even though he's retiring, he's not planning on leaving those friends.

"I will be coming by to see everybody," he told the group. "If I get bored, I'll hang out at the fire station."

However, Born doesn't plan to be bored much.

He'll stay busy as a handyman with wood working at his shop and around the house.

"If I run out of things to do, I'll just call my wife and say, 'Where's that honey-do list?'" he said.

The department presented him with a commemorative plaque for his service, funny wooden signs for his shop and a gift card to help his hobby.