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Several firefighters received honors on Saturday night as the Elizabethtown Fire Department held their annual awards banquet. During the banquet three firefighters who have distinguished themselves were recognized by their peers. Receiving honors as Rookie of the Year was T. J. Johnson, Fireman of the Year was Matt Bryant, and Officer of the Year was Jamie Smith.
Firefighters Allston Freeman and Samuel Hodge were honored for Exceptional Service for assisting with the Party Rock Fire in western North Carolina. They traveled to the western part of the state with members of a strike team to the western part of North Carolina near Chimney Rock where they spent seven days working the wildfire.
Also, firefighters who responded during Hurricane Matthew and spent more than one week, answering calls and assisting the residents in Elizabethtown, all received the Distinguished Service Award. According to Fire Chief Nick West, these firefighters distinguished themselves with their service during and after the storm. They were Tyler Gallagher, Anthony Norris, Job Connor, Hollis Freeman, Adam Jordan, John Dean Alsup, TJ Johnson, Randy Jones, Matt Bryant, Chase Lancaster, Seth Hair, Marcus Singletary, Zack Bridgers, Jimmy Mize and Jason Page.
In addition, John Dean Alsup, who joined the fire department when he was 16, has been serving as junior firefighter. Alsup recently celebrated his 18th birthday which allows him to become a firefighter. In recognition of the milestone, he received his black helmet.
Firefighter Matt Bryant received the red helmet for a promotion in rank.
Chief West also gave the audience in attendance an overview of the department’s year. He said the department has implemented a new process for promotions that includes a written test, and interview and a fire scenario. The department is also implanting an officers development program to start at the firefighters level.
The department has also gotten new uniforms for the firefighters. The new uniform shirts are grey with dark trousers. Another accomplishment Chief West itemized with establishing of a fire marshal’s division performing fire inspections and fire investigations.
Chief West told those gathered that the department had a tremendous turn out of volunteer members during Hurricane Matthew that were busy aiding citizens with various tasks from rescues to fires.
“I’m so very proud of you all,” said Chief West.