Annual event held Saturday night
Volunteer firefighters do not live and work in a firehouse like career firefighters, they carry out the same kinds of emergency response duties and non-emergency tasks. They don’t get paid and they have day jobs, but they work in the most dangerous situations.
The Augusta Department of Safety has a long history of utilizing volunteer firefighters. Several generations have been represented in the local department.
Their accomplishments and valuable service is recognized each year at an annual dinner. The group met Saturday night at The Point Events Center in Augusta for dinner, music and fellowship.
Ron Reavis, president of the local volunteer firefighters’ association, kicked off the event by welcoming everyone and advising that there had been no significant injuries, no close calls or fire related deaths in the past year.
“Pats on the back for all of you for keeping safety foremost. A lot of credit goes to Ray.”
Next to speak was Major Ray Marbut.
Marbut reported that there were 367 alarms that were responded to in 2017; 170 in the city and 137 in the fire district.
“This is a team effort. We have to compete with other departments for funding, and I’d like to thank the City Manager, the Mayor, and the City Council for your support,” he continued, “Our retired members should be recognized for helping so many people. And for their patience. To our dispatch and communications staff - you take care of the irate and excited callers. Thank you. You don’t get credit often enough. You are very, very important.”
“To the volunteers - you are all professionals. That’s how we operate. I’m proud of all of you. You’re willing to do it in freezing weather and in extremely hot weather. That kind of dedication is rare in today’s society.”
Marbut also recognized the paid staff, area fire divisions and chiefs, the Task Force, the Rescue Squad, the Explorers, and the families of firefighters.
He gave advise to the volunteers and Explorers, “You’ve chosen a noble and well respected service. Strive to do your best. Listen to the old-timers. Listen and ask questions. They can share stuff that’s not in books and on training tapes. They have blazed the path for you. Listen and pay attention.”
He had advise for the older volunteers, as well.
“Train and prepare them for the future. Have patience. They don’t know everything that you know. They are our future. Let’s make it good.”
Guest speaker City Manager Josh Shaw thanked the firefighters.
On behalf of our great community, I want to say how grateful we are to you for your great service.”
Shaw shared the story of the tragic death of his father-in-law in a fire when Shaw’s wife was only 8-years-old. Her father had been a talented artist and most of his work was lost in the fire. One portfolio was saved and has become a valued memento for the family.
“You help save and protect our memories. Our lives are safer,” he said.
The Firefighter of the Year Award is chosen by the command staff each year, and Brian Smart was this year’s winner.
“No matter what time it is, I know that I can call him and he’ll always be here. He’s never let me down,” Major Marbut said.
After presentation of the award, Ron Reavis closed out the program.
“I see nothing but good things for 2018. I see the equipment some fire departments are using. I hear their budget stories and I’m honored to say that we don’t have that problem in Augusta. The city and county have us covered. We thank you for that,” he added, “There are a couple of guys who will never be forgotten and were always a part of this celebration. Leroy Hall and Rodney Pressnell. They are missed.”
The dinner and program were followed by music and fellowship.