The Tyler Fire Department named Matt Ford as Firefighter of the Year and presented two lifesaving awards during its 23rd annual awards banquet Saturday at Tyler Rose Garden Center.
During the ceremony, firefighters, along with retired firefighters and civilians were honored for their actions and service to the City of Tyler.
As Firefighter of the Year, Ford was hailed for never wavering when on his first day on the job he faced the Loggins meat company fire, one of the most intense fires the department has fought in several years.
He was commended for skillfully handling people he comes in contact with as a firefighter and for showing a genuine interest in the people he works with as well as for always being polite, considerate and humble with whomever he is working with.
Ford was lauded for helping keep the truck and station organized, for cleaning and rearranging things to make it user-friendlier.
“If you could hand pick someone to be by your side, on the hose line, searching a building or in the trenches, Matt is one of the top picks in our department,” Fire Chief Tim Johnson said in announcing the award.
The department’s Life Saving Award honored Firefighter Kenny Vent for being a member of a rapid entry team of firefighters that rescued Lindale Firefighter Joe Weekly last January after a house fire roof collapse. The team’s only task is to be ready to enter a hazard area if a firefighter is trapped or injured.
The Phoenix Life Saving Award presented to a civilian for heroic actions went to Casdarius Wheeler, a John Tyler High School student, for his efforts in alerting occupants of a house in the 2600 block of Border Avenue that the house was on fire. He was lauded for his bravery and quick actions
The Firefighter Association Award went to Mayor Barbara Bass and Holly Short.
The chief’s certificates of appreciation were awarded to Loretta Kuhn of Regional Advisory Council, Jim Seaton of Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office, Matt and Tori Jenkins of Bra’s for the Cause, Larry Crowson of Tyler Firefighter and Brookshire’s FRESH 15 Bicycle Team, Kelly and Stephanie Shirley of Combat Challenge volunteers, Serena Butcher of the City of Tyler Cooking with Fire – Production and Stephen Self, City of Tyler Cooking with Fire cameraman.
The chief’s certificates of merit were awarded to: David Hickey and Russell Jowell, who won a recent shooting competition, Laura Mason, for work on the Critical Incident Stress Management team, James Suggs for work on criminal investigations in the Fire Marshal’s Office.
A chief’s certificate of merit also was presented to Terry Hawkins, Brandon Davis, Brent Hail, Jeff Barnett and Randy Lee, who served on the Combat Challenge (over 40) Team; Cotton Bowl Invitational / Qualified for the World Combat Challenge in Las Vegas, NV.
Additional chief’s certificates of merit went to James Seaton, Mark Baker, Zach Sutton and Tim McCawley, all of whom represented the fire department at the recent funeral for a retired Dallas Firefighter.
Members of the fire department team soccer team who received a certificate of merit are: Gold Medal / Division 3 - Tony Gumber, Jason Beasley, Greg Crenshaw, Mason Edney, Eric Rozell, Bruce Hill, Logan Luttrell, Chris Mahler, Terence Thedford, Steven Wieczor, Shawn Wilson and Lucas Terry.
Certificates of merit were awarded Marjorie Vallejo for staff support, Marty Lawrence for work on Lean Sigma Projects / Department Business Plan and to Paul Findley for his acceptance to the National Fire Academy – EFO Program.
Special recognition was given to Greenberg Smoked Turkey, Inc., East Texas Emergency Medical Service, Brookshire Grocery Company and Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church Quilter’s Group.
Friend of the Department Awards were presented to Monty and Jackie Ward and to James Gregory and Louis LaBella with Delek Refinery.
Community Service Recognition Awards went to Matt Brown of the American Red Cross and to Ralph Caraway and Charles Williams of St. Louis Baptist Church.
The Staff Support Award went to Margaret Carrico.
Legends Awards were presented to the following:
Howard H. Kennedy Jr. who was hired on Nov. 17, 1969, and retired on Jan. 1, 2005, with over 35 years of service.
Jerry W. Scott, who was hired on May 16, 1968 and retired on Dec. 31, 2003, with over 35 years of service.
John E. Langston, who was hired on Oct. 15, 1966 and retired on Dec. 31, 1986, with over 20 years of service.
The Outstanding District Award went to District 2 C-Shift, led by District Chief Mike Frost.
Leadership Awards were presented to Capt. Kenneth Langley, Capt. Ross Hamilton and Capt. Morgan Herron.