MABANK–As the Mabank Fire Department begins their 100th in service to the community, they held the 32nd Awards Banquet Feb. 29, paying tribute to fellow firefighters for years of service and dedication to the community.
Emcee for the evening John Holcomb begins with a short video of Paul Harvey detailing some of the dangers and toils experienced by firefighters on a daily basis, asking the question, “Is it worth it?” As we look over the volunteers, we certainly hope so. In 2019, Mabank Firefighters answered 710 calls for service including 134 motor vehicle accidents, 346 emergency medical calls, 34 structure fires, 45 grass fires, 26 smoke investigations, 8 car fires and 117 miscellaneous calls.
In 2019 there were 58 Line of Duty Deaths among firefighters in the United States, with three of those in the State of Texas. Holcomb told the group that changes and improved techniques in fighting fires has brought the death toll down a bit from the average of 100 per year. Chaplain Jim Vess shared “The Fireman’s Prayer” and said the author is not really unknown, but was a Wichita, Kansas firefighter named Alvin A. W. “Smokey” Lynn who penned the poem as a prayer after a housefire occurred where there was a house full of occupants and they couldn’t get them all out. Vess said he had contacted Smokey’s granddaughter who was pleased that her grandfather’s story was being shared and told him how the prayer, which was private to her grandfather, came to be widely shared to help other firefighters.
Three firefighters were honored with years of service awards. Steve Flowers received his 5-year award, Mike Bass was honored for his 15 years and Wayne McKenzie received his award, including a watch for his 25 years of dedication.
The Mabank Fire Department had dwindled down to 12 members just a few years ago, but now have over 30 members including several younger members and cadets. Holcomb said the department structure had changed and now operates with a chief, assistant chief, two captains and two lieutenants.
Lieutenant Lupe Garza was honored as 2019 Firefighter of the Year, something the department began recognizing in 1988. Garza served from 2003 to 2010 and returned to the department in 2018, having run 296 calls since his return. In presenting Garza’s award, 2018 Firefighter of the Year Cody Myrick said, “This firefighter helped me become the firefighter I am today…He’s truly a brother and I am glad to have him as part of the family.” See Thursday, March 5 issue of The Monitor for photo.
Other top ten firefighters include:
10 Cody Myrick, 101 calls
9 Jody Farrell, 115 calls
8 Kenneth Tanner, 126 calls
7 Mike Rowan, 148 calls
6 Chelsea McNutt, 167 calls
5 Joel Hughes, 172 calls
3 (tied) Jerry Sanchez, Lupe Garza, 219 calls each.
2 Ricky Myrick, 267 calls
1 Fred Carter, 279 calls.
Fred Carter is the only firefighter to receive the honor for two years, 2014 and 2017.