The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) announced the winners of its three national fire service achievement awards. The recipients of this year’s Lifetime Achievement, Fire Prevention and Education, and Junior Firefighter of the Year awards were selected through a competitive nationwide nomination process.
Award winners will be recognized at a banquet during the NVFC’s spring board meeting on April 7, 2017, in Alexandria, Virginia. As part of their award, recipients receive a trip to Alexandria to attend the award ceremony, complimentary registration for the NVFC spring meeting, and a personalized award. The NVFC thanks award sponsors California Casualty, Nest, and Rosenbauer for their support of the volunteer fire service.
The recipients of the NVFC’s 2017 awards are as follows.
Chief Freddy Johnson Sr.
NVFC Lifetime Achievement Award
Award sponsored by Rosenbauer
Chief Freddy Johnson, Sr., has served his community through the Stoney Point Volunteer Fire Department (SPVFD) in Fayetteville, North Carolina, since 1976, where he quickly moved up the ranks to lead as chief. The department has grown from less than 30 members and one station to over 100 members, mostly volunteer, at two stations, which now also offer rescue and emergency medical service. Johnson’s leadership at SPVFD guided the department to attain international accreditation with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International in 2012, a distinction further enhanced by a recent recommendation for reaccreditation, a status never before achieved by another volunteer department anywhere in the world.
In addition to his own department, Johnson presently serves as Emergency Services Director for the Hoke County Sheriff’s Office & Emergency Management, President of the Cumberland County Fire Chief’s Association, and a nominated member of the North Carolina Fire and Rescue Commission. In 2008, he served as a Homeland Security Fire Service Grant Peer Review member and, in the years following, he authored several million dollars’ worth of Assistance to Firefighters Grants that vastly improved emergency communication capabilities within his state. He has received several Volunteer Chief of the Year awards from organizations such as the International Association of Fire Chiefs, as well as Cumberland County Volunteer of the Year (1993), Young Deputy Sheriff of the Year (1988), and two state awards for volunteer service. Chief Johnson also received numerous awards and decorations during his service in the United States Army, where he retired as Sergeant Major after 23 years.
NVFC Fire Prevention and Education Award
Award sponsored by Nest
Firefighter William Wren, a 28-year member of the New Hartford (NY) Fire Department (NHFD), is well known for bringing fire safety messages to his community and adapting to the needs of various populations. After several years of targeting elementary school students, the NHFD Fire Prevention Program Committee realized that their educational programming should extend to junior high school and senior high school students. Wren developed several programs for the older students, covering topics such as fire extinguisher use, recognizing by-products of fire, and escaping from dangerous fire situations. He also developed a program specifically for high school seniors to address the unique aspects of fire prevention and dorm safety at college.
In addition to reaching older students, Wren adapted programming to reach other groups within the community such as day cares, preschools, Boy and Girl Scouts, and senior living facilities. The fire prevention programs have reached over 2,500 students and 300 adults, not including those reached during special community-wide activities during Fire Prevention Month. For his service in his community and county, Wren was designated the 2016 Fire Safety Educator of the Year by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, and he received the William G. Martin Iron Man of the Year award in 2011, one of the highest honors presented by his department.
Junior Firefighter of the Year Award
Sponsored by California Casualty
As the stepson of a firefighter, Parker Ketler was a fixture around the Sebring (OH) Fire Department since childhood and was widely familiar with the field before the department’s Explorer Post was officially launched in 2010. Chief Brian Anderson said Ketler was the “obvious choice for president” when officers for the program were chosen. Ketler is described as hard working, eager to help, dedicated, morally upstanding, and ambitious. When he was young, he would watch all the department trainings, whether uneventful PowerPoint presentations or exciting hands-on demonstrations, soaking in every detail. Instead of filling his weekends with normal teenage activities, he was often found at the station helping with routine or mundane chores. As an Explorer, Ketler participated in a demonstration for other high schoolers on the dangers of distracted driving. His peers held him in high esteem, as evidenced by his election to prom king.
Ketler was engaged in his community, school, and Explorer program. He received several awards and accolades, including the Distinguished Volunteer Service Cross Commendation (2016) from the Village of Sebring, Basketball All League Honorable Mention, Alliance Elks Teen of the Month, and the Award of Excellence for Sportmanship, Ethics, and Integrity from the Ohio High School State Athletic Association. He is currently pursuing a degree in Fire Science at Columbus State University, where he has earned his Firefighter I and II certifications and is undergoing EMT training. Since the time of his nomination, he has joined the Sebring Fire Department as a firefighter and drives home each weekend from college to serve.
About the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC)
The NVFC is the leading nonprofit membership association representing the interests of the volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services. The NVFC serves as the voice of the volunteer in the national arena and provides invaluable resources, programs, education, and advocacy for first responders across the nation. Learn more at www.nvfc.org.
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About California Casualty
Founded in 1914, California Casualty provides auto and home insurance to firefighters, peace officers, educators, and nurses in 44 states. The company routinely maintains a 99 percent customer service rating and a 96 percent claims rating. Learn more about their exclusive coverage and discounts at www.calcas.com.
Rosenbauer is the world’s leading manufacturer of firefighting vehicles and equipment. With locations all over the globe, the North American operations are based in Lyons, South Dakota; Wyoming, Minnesota; and Fremont, Nebraska. Rosenbauer incorporates the international strength and innovation of a global company with top American manufacturing firms to build firefighters what they need to help keep their communities safe. For more information, please visit www.rosenbaueramerica.com.