January 19, 2019
The 2018 Saint Thomas DeKalb/Ascension County Volunteer Firefighter of the Year is Steve Repasy, Station Commander of the Midway Station.
Repasy received the award Saturday night during the Department’s Annual Awards Banquet held at the DeKalb County Complex.
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Dusty Johnson was named the 2018 Liberty State Bank Officer of the Year and Blake Cantrell, Communications Officer and firefighter with the Cookeville Highway Station, was selected by the awards panel to receive the Tenneco 2018 “Git R Done” Award. Cantrell was a co-recipient of this award in 2017. The DeKalb Telephone Cooperative (DTC) Rookie of the Year Award went to Firefighter Travis Checci of the Liberty Station.
All nominations were submitted to three members of the 2018 Citizens’ Fire Academy who served as the awards selection panel.
Repasy, one of the 2018 Firefighters of the Month, was nominated and received the Firefighter of the Year Award taking into consideration his incident response, training participation, community service, and extra effort. Assistant Fire Chief Anthony Boyd, who presented the award, said Repasy has excelled in all considerations used to evaluate the worthiness of earning this award.
“Steve is always willing to take on any project with a positive attitude. Whether it’s a work session, fire prevention/safety event, fundraiser, training, or fire call, you will see him there from start to finish. He does so much work behind the scenes that keeps our department running smoothly. As for his community service, Steve is very active in the Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, building wheelchair ramps for the needy, children’s reading programs at the library, and he is an active member of the Smithville Lion’s Club. The DeKalb County Fire Department attempts to recognize firefighters who reflect a positive image of commitment and sacrifice to the department and our communities, and there’s absolutely no doubt that Steve has earned the honor of being named Saint Thomas DeKalb/Ascension 2018 Firefighter of the Year,” said Asst. Chief Boyd.
Lieutenant Johnson earned the “Officer of the Year Award” for his achievements in training attendance, incident response, and community service.
“As one of our lieutenants and Fire Prevention/Safety Officer, Dusty has grown in his leadership skills and does a tremendous job planning, coordinating, and scheduling free smoke alarm installations and providing fire prevention/safety events for our community. In 2018, he and his team installed just over 300 smoke alarms in DeKalb County. Lt. Johnson is among the top when it comes to incident responses and training attendance. He unselfishly donates his construction skills and equipment to make improvements to our department. Lastly, he sacrifices his time for community service. As a member of the DeKalb Emergency Services Association, he played a big role in helping plan, prepare, and deliver almost 400 meals to the needy last Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. Dusty also serves our community in his role as Captain of the Smithville/DeKalb County Rescue Squad. We are proud to honor Lt. Dusty Johnson as the Liberty State Bank 2018 Officer of the Year,” said Chief Donny Green who presented the award.
The “Git R Done Award” goes to a firefighter who demonstrates exceptional sacrifices by going above and beyond responding to calls and attending training.
“Firefighter Blake Cantrell continuously shares is technology skills and goes well beyond his required duties as one our communications officers. He always is willing to take on new projects and he stays on task and is always prompt. Blake has been a huge part of making our fundraising and sponsorship efforts very successful. He prioritizes training and call response and still does all these extra things that makes our department better prepared to serve and respond. With his excellent information technology skills, Blake has gone above and beyond by maintaining our security equipment, text messaging system, and computers. As for community service, it would be hard to find anyone more involved in our community. This is validated by him being named “Community Leader of the Year” by the Leadership DeKalb Alumni in April 2018. Blake is the President of the DeKalb Emergency Services Association (DESA) and has led many community service projects including hosting Camp Phoenix, a camp for children with burn injuries held at Indian Creek Youth Camp, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve meal preparation and delivery project where over 400 meals were delivered on each occasion. Blake demonstrates the model of a “Git-R-Done” firefighter. His commitment to sacrifice of personal time, both in our department and in the community, while leading with a positive attitude, clearly shows why the awards panel chose Blake Cantrell as the recipient of the Tenneco 2018 “Git R Done” award,” said award presenter Lieutenant Andy Pack.
The “Rookie of the Year” award is exclusively based on hours of training and goes to a firefighter who completed his or her basic recruit training during 2018.
In making the presentation, Captain/Training Officer Brian Williams said the department feels that the most important thing that can be done for new recruits is to give them basic training and reinforce the importance of continuous training. Consequently, training is the sole criteria used in the “Rookie of the Year” selection. During Firefighter Checci’s 12-month rookie period, he completed 162 hours of training, including completion of the 64 hour Basic Firefighter Training. In addition to his Basic Recruit training, he has completed a long list of extra training courses to improve his firefighting skills. “We certainly want to recognize recruits who demonstrate an outstanding level of commitment to training. Our department is fortunate to have an excellent group of recruits who have contributed to our department being recognized with elite training awards for 10 consecutive years. We are proud of all of them and we are honored to name Firefighter Travis Checci as our 2018 DTC Rookie of the Year,” said Captain Williams.
Seven members were presented Walmart Length of Service awards by Lieutenant Dusty Johnson and Captain Jay Cantrell.
5 years of service: Matt Boss, Liberty Station; Harley Lawrence, Main Station; Stan Morris, Liberty Station; Brent Reed, Jr., Blue Springs Station; and Robert Sartin, Main Station
10 years of service: Steve Repasy, Midway Station
20 years of service: Anthony Boyd, Assistant Chief, Ronald Merriman, Keltonburg Station.
Captains Brian Williams and Michael Lawrence presented the Safe Industries Training Achievement Awards. Members receiving this award for achieving 100% training attendance were: Matt Adcock, Justin Bass, Asst. Chief Anthony Boyd, Capt. Jay Cantrell, Kim Cantrell, Herb Checci, Chief Donny Green, Donnie Johnson, Lt. Dusty Johnson, Jerry Wayne Johnson, Jody Lattimore, Capt. Michael Lawrence, Lt. Andy Pack, Shawn Puckett, Robert Sartin, Calvin Tramel, and Capt. Brian Williams. Members achieving 75% training attendance were: Sandra Caffee, Shawn Chausse, Harley Lawrence, Tony Moore, Jeremy Neal, Steve Repasy, Cody Wagner, and Jason Young.
Honorary Lifetime Membership Awards were presented to Steve Repasy, Bob Myracle, and Marvin Montgomery by fellow Honorary Lifetime Member Jeff Williams.
Each year, the Department’s Executive Committee accepts and reviews applications for Honorary Lifetime Memberships. This is a very distinguished award and recipients are chosen on strict merits of their service and contributions to the department.
Repasy joined the department in 2008 and has served as Station Commander at both the Midway and Johnson’s Chapel stations. “Steve has received numerous awards for his contributions to the fire department and our community. Whatever we are doing, whether training, fire calls, fundraisers, or special work projects, he is always there. He has a genuine interest in serving his community and we are honored to present Steve Repasy with this recognition and award,” said Williams.
Myracle has served on the department since 2006 and has led the Austin Bottoms Station as Station Commander. “Bob has donated countless hours of his time and resources at the Austin Bottoms Station and also in maintaining our fire boat at the Cookeville Boat Dock. His wisdom on our leadership team has been invaluable and his sacrifice and commitment to our department has been outstanding. We are privileged to present Bob Myracle with his Honorary Lifetime Membership Award,” said Williams.
Lastly, Montgomery, field instructor with the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Training Academy, was also presented with an Honorary Lifetime Membership. “Marvin is not only an instructor, but he is a friend a mentor to our department. He has served on the Putnam County Fire Department and currently serves on the Cookeville Fire Department. With a practical understanding of the volunteer fire services, Marvin easily relates to our students and always challenges them to be the best they can be. Marvin began teaching fire program classes at our department in 1997 and continues to instruct several courses for our department each year. We consider him one of us, even though he’s not an official active member of our department. However, we are proud to say that he is now an official Honorary Lifetime Member; an honor he has clearly earned,” said Williams.
To conclude the awards ceremony, the department’s officers presented Hugh Washer, firefighter with the Cookeville Highway Station, with a special honorary fire axe plaque recognizing his 41 years of exceptional and dedicated service on the department. “Although Hugh will be stepping down from active status, he is one of our Honorary Lifetime Members and we know he will continue to be a part of this family,” said Chief Green.
During his remark, Chief Green highlighted some of the department’s major achievements in 2018 that have resulted in huge milestones.
The department started the year off big by hosting the “SCBA Using It” course, a 15-hour advanced class with 17 firefighters participating.
In March, recruits Charles Fields, Justin Coats, Jacob Parker, Kim Cantrell, and Michael Halderson completed the 64-hour “Basic Fighting” course in Overton County. In addition, Firefighter Chris Mulford completed the 32-hour “Hazmat Operations” course and the department hosted “Initial Fire Investigation for First Responders” 15-hour course. 16 firefighters completed the course, including firefighters from White and Cannon counties.
In April, the 9th session of the DeKalb County Fire Department’s Citizens’ Fire Academy began. 12 participants graduated this session on May 22.
On May 29, the department and DeKalb County Commission presented a “Citizen Hero Award” to Bobby Hull, a resident in the Silver Point Community. Mr. Hull was recognized for his extraordinary awareness and diligence in discovering and reporting a traffic accident near his home where a victim had plunged over an embankment and was trapped inside her car. During the last week of May, the department’s members participated in hosting Camp Phoenix, a week-long camp for children with traumatic burn injuries
In August, for the tenth consecutive year, DeKalb County Fire Department was recognized as one of Tennessee’s elite fire departments for 2018 outstanding training achievement. Of the 732 fire departments in Tennessee, both volunteer and paid, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department ranked # 15 for 2017-18 training achievement by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Considering the ranking among departments that operate with 100% volunteer staff in the state, the DeKalb County Volunteer Fire Department ranked # 1. Also in August, firefighters Sandra Caffee, Austin Cantrell, Herb Checci, Andrew Harvey, and Tony Moore graduated the 64-hour “Basic Firefighting” course. In September, the Smithville Assembly of God and Smithville Cumberland Presbyterian Church hosted special events honoring DeKalb County’s emergency service personnel.
On October 6 & 7, 14 members of Vehicle Rescue Team completed a 24-hour vehicle extrication class conducted by the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Academy. Also in October, the department hosted the 15-hour Introduction to Pumpers class where 6 members, as well as firefighters from White and Warren counties attended.
In November, a bid was awarded to begin construction of the department’s 12th station in the Four Seasons Community. The goal is to have the station constructed and in operation by late April or early May 2019. Also in November, we had 6 firefighters complete a weekend training session at the Tennessee River Weekend in Savannah, Tennessee and firefighters Herb Checci, Andrew Harvey, and Mike Halderson graduated from the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Training Academy’s Live Burn class. During Thanksgiving and Christmas, several of the department’s members participated in the DeKalb Emergency Services Association (DESA) meal preparation and delivery efforts for needy and underserved DeKalb County residents.
In December, Firefighter Justin Coats graduated from the Tennessee Fire Service and Codes Enforcement Training Academy’s Live Burn class. For the year, the 62-member all-volunteer department donated a total of 7,747.51 hours responding to calls, attending training, participating in work session and fundraising events, and attending administrative meetings and special events. To put that in perspective, that’s 124.96 hours per member.
The evening began with a delicious meal and an awesome motivational speech by Dr. Burton A. Clark is an Executive Fire Officer and has been in the fire service for 49 years from the local to international levels; working in urban, suburban, and rural environments for paid and volunteer organizations in operations, prevention, and education domains. His research is in firefighter safety and culture. He has lectured and published around the world. His award winning book “I Can’t Save You, But I’ll Die Trying: The American Fire Culture.” has been gifted to the United States Congress and the Kansas and Ohio State Legislatures. The meal and entertainment sponsors were Center Hill Nursery, Evins Mill Inn/Restaurant, Face Pace Urgent Care Clinic, Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District, Riverwatch Golf Club, Sligo Marina, and The Swallows Agency.
Approximately 180 were in attendance at the Awards Banquet, including firefighters, their families, banquet sponsors, local and state officials, and community partners.