Firefighter of the Year named

Published 12:53 pm Wednesday, January 25, 2017

By Anna M. Bultrowicz

Special to The K-V Dispatch

During the Kenbridge Volunteer Fire Department’s annual awards banquet held Saturday, Tom Parks, who has served with the department for 38 years, received the esteemed Firefighter of the Year Award.

“It’s everything in the world to me,” said Parks, who has lived in Kenbridge for more than half of his life. “(It’s) a big honor, a really big honor.”

“(Kenbridge Fire Department) is one big family,” Parks said. “Everybody works together, does things together.”

In addition to Parks, many other volunteers were recognized for their years of service. Samuel Finch, Michael Gee and Austin Bagley were presented with plaques for their five years with the department. Frankie Thompson and Tyler Anderson received recognition for their 10 years with the department.

Eight firefighters were recognized for having served 15 years with the department. According to Department Secretary Todd Wilson, Jason Stokes, Emory Hodges, Chuck Schumaker, Ty Dunbar, Steve Gary, Aaron Stokes, Brandon Spencer and Chris Blalock all joined on the same day when a fire broke out in Kenbridge.

Wilson presented the Officer of the Year Award to First Assistant Chief Ferrell Alder, who was also recognized for having served 35 years with the department. The Firefighter Answering Most Calls

was awarded to Jake Rifkind, who answered 83 calls last year.

During the banquet, active, retired and deceased members of the department were recognized for their service in addition to the awards that were presented.

The department is an all-volunteer agency that has served Kenbridge since 1908. In its early years, the only equipment that the department owned was buckets and a handmade chemical cart.

The department has 50 active firefighters, ranging in age and experience from men such as H.B Gee Jr., who will have 63 years with the department in February, to Noah Dunbar, the department’s newest junior firefighter.

“We try to be very careful as to who we accept as members,” said Chief Richard “Dicky” Harris in his opening remarks. “I believe that when most people approach us about joining, they are more interested in the excitement of us responding with red lights and sirens… But it does not take them long to realize that our dedicated members soon lose the excitement and take on a mission of helping other people when they need us most.”