The Bartow County Fire Department sergeant — and former mayor of Kingston — is booked almost nightly in what has quickly become his second calling in life — singing and celebrating with churches.
“Faith is very important to me on my job and everyday life. We work in a very dangerous profession and without my walk with the Lord and faith in him I would be nothing,” Silvers said.
The father of two himself followed in his father’s footsteps, first into the fire service and then into politics — something Silvers said he does not plan to return to. Perhaps it’s his humility or his self-deprecating sense of humor that makes the political realm an ill fit.
Whatever the case, Silvers credits a higher power, holding up the hymn “Who Am I?” as his favorite song and fitting theme for his life.
“... God sent his son to die for a sinner like me and yet he has been so good to me,” Silvers said. “I am so undeserving but yet he still loves me. Who am I?”
Name: Payton Silvers
Occupation: Sergeant with Bartow County Fire Department
City of Residence: City of Kingston
Family: Wife, Dawn; sons, Ryan, 14, and Matthew, 11
Education: 1991 graduate of Adairsville High School
How did you come to be involved in the fire service? How long have you been in the fire department and was it always with Bartow County Fire Department?
A: My father was a volunteer firefighter for the city of Kingston for as long as I can remember. I remember when I was about 8 years old there was a mobile home fire in Kingston and my dad was the only volunteer in town. He took me to the fire station and put me in the old tanker truck they had and off to the fire we went. It seemed like he pulled right next to the mobile home that was on fire. I remember crying and was scared to death. There were people standing on the road and yelled for me to come up and stand with them. I told myself right then that this was something I would never do — fighting fire. Boy was I wrong.
As I got older the desire was burning, no pun intended, inside me to want to become a fireman. I actually have a picture of my fourth birthday party that was decorated with fire trucks. You know the old saying that every little boy wants to be a fireman. I started volunteering when I was about 15 years old. Back then there were not as many rules and regulations as there are now. I was hired on with Bartow County in November 1995. I’ve seen a lot of changes in 18 years.
You served as the mayor of Kingston for some time. What led to the foray into politics? And are there any plans to return?
A: My granddad and my dad served as mayor at one time. I have served the public for a number of years so I wanted to try my hand in another capacity. Now that I look back on it, maybe this was one thing [where] I shouldn’t have followed in my father’s footsteps. I have no desire to run for public office. Besides my wife told me I would have to find somewhere else to live. [On] April 27 we will celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary.
Singing has become something of second career to you. How did you come to be almost everywhere performing at functions and churches?
A: I have been singing since I was about 4 years old. Five years ago my good friends, the Gentrys, introduced me to the Steve Hurst School of Music in Cleveland, Tenn. This school changed my ministry and drew me closer to the Lord. The doors started opening for me to go minister to churches.
This year has been the busiest by far. I am so thankful for what God has done for me. One of my desires and prayers also came through this year with one miraculous phone call I received from Larry Gentry. That’s a whole different story in itself. We have formed a quartet, including myself, Larry, Trent Gentry and Kenneth Stepp. These guys are some of the most talented men I know. It has been a true honor for me to get to sing with them. I want to thank my pastor, Tommy Harris, and church family at Taylorsville Baptist for supporting me. I also want to thank my former pastor, Leon Smith, and his wife, Connie, for seeing something in me when I was a young child.
Is there a call you have answered in BCFD that has impacted your life? If so, what and how?
A: There are so many calls and bad things we see that they all have an impact. I responded to my wife’s first cousin who passed away a few years ago. We were the same age and used to play together growing up. I responded to my dad’s car accident two years ago. Just goes to show you how fragile life is and we are never promised the next breath.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle facing public servants? And why?
A: The economy. Like every profession, the economy has affected pay raises and manpower. It has also affected the people we take care of.
What makes Bartow County special?
A: The county has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years but still has that hometown feeling. The citizens of Bartow County have shown in times of disaster that we are all one no matter what our background is.
What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I am a cancer survivor. When I was 13 I had a tumor removed from my knee.
You are a farmer. What's your favorite thing to grow and why?
A: I would not consider myself a farmer by any means. Farmers work way harder than I do. We just planted about an acre of corn this year to [sell] for our boys.
A: My wife is a great cook, so just about anything she cooks.
If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things could you not live without?
A: My wife has answered this one for you. Facebook, Facebook and Facebook. I have people tell me all the time that they get on Facebook just to see the crazy stuff I post. I tell Dawn that I can’t let them down.