Longtime Carrabelle firefighter Carl Whaley, now in his 25th year of service, was honored by friends throughout the city with a festive dinner at the Crooked River Grill.

Whaley, who started with the department in May 1992, has served as chief since Oct. 2006. After a cheerful introduction by City Clark Keisha Smith, Mayor Brenda La Paz paid tribute to Whaley, and recounted her ride on a city fire truck.

Whaley was joined by his parents Earl and Wanda Whaley, wife Dana and son Duncan, brother Lorne, father-in-law Carl Duncan, sister in law Donna Duncan and husband Joe Gander, and assorted extended family and friends.

“ I appreciate all of the thoughts and the honoring of the years of service, and look forward to many more years of serving the people of Carrabelle and Franklin County,” said Whaley.

He said the department has 11 active members, typical, but said he has concerns about the volunteer involvement in several of the county’s fire departments,.

“It is saddening to see the numbers across the whole county shrinking,” he said in an interview this week. “We’re running most of the fire calls in Lanark Village, and Alligator Point is very slim. And we’ve seen declines in Eastpoint.

“Volunteerism is dwindling, definitely shrinking down,” he said. “Maybe more recognition would turn that around.”

One past firefighter, Clyde Millender, offered the benediction on the meal, expertly prepared and served by Nola Tolbert and her staff.

“He was on the fire department when I first started,” said Whaley.