Community comes together to honor fallen first responder and support local fire department

In a heartfelt tribute to the late Atticus Manchac Stephens, a dedicated first responder, members of the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department gathered at the Quincy Moose Lodge #2672 on the evening of Sept. 28. Lane and Joetta Stephens, Atticus’ parents, presented a ceremonial check to the fire department, amounting to $10,675.50.

These funds, a testament to the community’s generosity, were raised through a benefit organized to commemorate the memory of Atticus, who tragically lost his life in an off-duty traffic crash on September 11, 2022. Atticus was not only an engineer with the Marianna Fire Department but also an active volunteer at the Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. Additionally, he served as an EMS Transport Specialist at Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare.

Joetta, deeply touched by her son’s dedication to service as a first responder, conceived the idea of an annual benefit to support volunteer fire departments.

“With Atticus having served at Mt. Pleasant, it only made sense that it would be the first department to benefit,” she expressed.

On the evening of Sept. 16, approximately 300 friends, family members, and co-workers of Atticus came together at the Quincy Moose Lodge to honor his legacy. They enjoyed a delicious catfish dinner, participated in a substantial silent auction, and reveled in live music performances by two bands.

This event, aptly named FireBear154, marked a resounding success and will now become an annual tradition in September.

The name FireBear154 is a tribute to Atticus’ nickname and his personal unit number at the Marianna Fire Department.

Those interested in participating in future events or contributing can visit the official website,, which will remain active year-round as preparations are made for next year’s gathering. 

“We had a goal of raising $5000 in year one, and we doubled that due to the support of the community, the Moose Lodge, and our family and friends. Joetta and I can’t thank everyone enough,” Lane Stephens said, expressing his gratitude.

Clay Fallis, speaking on behalf of the Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department, conveyed their overwhelming appreciation for the financial support and the enduring memory of Atticus, said, “While we all remain saddened by the loss of Atticus, he will never be forgotten.”

Atticus’ commitment to service lives on through the compassionate acts of his loved ones and the community that cherished him.

Erin Hill – Gadsden County News Service


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