By Heather Clower
The Parsons Advocate
Each year, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Departments come together to cook for and host the annual Christmas and Awards Dinner held at Company 10. “We host the whole county each year as a team building and thank you to everyone for working together,” stated Company 10 Fire Chief Kevin White. “We all give so much of our time to make sure the county is protected in many aspects, so this is a day that we try to fellowship together,” he added.
White stated there were 170 individuals present for the annual event, which included not only the fire fighters and their families, but also law enforcement officers, EMS, 911 staff, as well as county and city staff. White often uses the term “team” in his statements which is exactly what it takes to keep an entire county safe and secure. This event celebrates those who have dedicated their lives to doing just that; being a member of that team.
In addition to home cooked food and fellowship, awards are presented to firefighters who have stood out in some way over the past calendar year. The 2019 recipients were as follows: Most Improved Firefighter: Slayter Liller, Fire Attack Firefighter of the Year: Gary Meloy, Officer of the Year: Captain Preston Simmons, Fire Fighter of the Year: Lieutenant Steven Cousin, Most Calls for the Year: Captain Preston Simmons with second going to Lieutenant Steven Cousin.
“I was honored to receive the most improved fire fighter award,” stated Liller. “I would like to thank my superiors and my fellow fire fighters who have taught me everything I know. I joined the fire department this year,” he continued. “I have always wanted to be a fire fighter since I was a little kid. I love serving my community.”
Meloy said, “It means a lot to me to win fire attack fire fighter of the year because it shows that all the hard work and training that has taken place over the year has been effective and the leadership of our officers to teach me what to do in certain situations.” He continued, “It also allows me to do what I love to do which means a lot. Them (his superiors) teaching me what to do over the years has allowed me to help teach the younger and new firemen what to do in situations I’ve been in before.”
“I’m a part of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department because I love being a firefighter,” Meloy added. “The experiences that the fire department has shown me are ones that I’ll never forget. I also like being involved in the community and the department allows me to do that.”
Lieutenant Cousin had this to say about being the recipient of the 2019 Fire Fighter of the Year. “It is my distinguished honor to accept the award of Firefighter of the Year for the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department for 2019. This award is voted on by the members of Company 10, so it is a great honor to be selected out of the 40 members in the department to receive this prestigious award. I have the privilege to work with some of the most dedicated, professional, and highly trained firefighters and first responders within the State of West Virginia right here in Tucker County.”
“I have been an active member with the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department for nine years. I became a volunteer firefighter to help serve the community, and to help people in need,” Cousin continued. “We’re not just responding on emergency calls; we also perform various fundraisers, fire education, and public service functions throughout the year. It’s an entire team effort to provide the best emergency services to the citizens of Parsons, and Tucker County in whole,” he explained. “Any new members are always welcome and encouraged to join our great team at Parsons Volunteer Fire Department.”
Captain Preston Simmons was awarded Officer of the Year and Most Calls Responded To of 2019. He said, “It has been my privilege to be a part of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department for over 40 plus years. As a Captain I am a safety /training officer with the department and have had the privilege of serving with others that are dedicated and well deserving of awards each and every day for their selfless dedication.”
White added, “We truly appreciate everything everyone does.” First responders, many of which are volunteers, work around the clock keeping our community safe. They spend time away from their families, including during holidays and special occasions, to report to duty when the first tone is sounded on their radios. They attend significant trainings and recertification’s to keep up to date on the latest equipment and tactics to be able to react accordingly in split seconds. It takes a true calling to dedicate your life to a career or volunteer opportunity such as this, and for those who are willing to take on that duty and make those sacrifices, we thank you.