Saturday night, Jan. 12, members of the 30-member Highlands Fire & Rescue Dept. gathered for their annual award/appreciation banquet held once again at Old Edwards’ Spring House.
Chief Ryan Gearhart thanked the members of the mostly volunteer force for their dedication and for braving the elements in all kinds of weather as first-responders, firefighters and public servants.He also thanked the wives and significant others of each member for living that life with their partners where many a dinner and peaceful night has been interrupted since a lot of the calls come in after hours, from 4 p.m. to midnight Mayor Pat Taylor also thanked the members and said he is continuing to work with state legislators to address issues with the firefighters’ retirement system.
With the number of calls increasing by the year, Mayor Taylor said the Highlands Fire & Rescue Dept. building on Oak Street will have to be addressed in the near future as well as the make-up of the force. Chief Gearhart said this year members responded to 640 calls … “more than ever before with no sign of stopping.”
The majority of calls – 266 – were rescue and emergency calls; false alarms were 114; good intent calls (where someone calls about something they see, smell or hear which may not amount to anything): 77; service calls: 54; hazardous condition calls: 37; fires: 10; special incident calls: 3; severe weather and natural disaster: 1; and overpressure rupture/explosion: 1.Rescue & Emergency accounted for 47.25% and false alarms accounted for 20.25%. Good Intent calls were next in line at 13.68%. Total manhours spent on the job and in training, which is an ongoing requirement, were 3,022.48.
Each year members of the department pick the Fireman of the Year … this year the title went to Travis Brooks. Jason Tardo was acknowledged on two counts – one for getting his Fireman 1 and Fireman 2 certification and for perfect attendance at the department’s weekly drill meetings on Tuesday nights. Roger Lee Wilson was also acknowledged for perfect attendance – something he is noted for each year.
Chief Gearhart said he has a basement full of plaques for perfect attendance. Pins and certificates were given for years of service. Five firefighters were given 5-year certificates: Eric Fielding, Seth Schmitt, Austin Reese, Kelly Dendy and Robby Reed. Ryan Perkins got a certificate for 10-years of service; Aaron “Buddy” Miller for 15 years and Jimmy Petrone and Jim Tate for 20-years of service.Each year new officers are appointed. Chief Gearhart and Asst. Chief Robbie Forrester retained their positions. Wilson is Captain; Hunter Leffler is 1st Lt., Lenny Metrick is 2nd Lt. as well as secretary/treasurer; Eric Pierson is Rescue Captain, David Leffler is Rescue Lt.; and Member @Large/Training Officer is Eric Fielding.
Pictured at the top of the article are HFR Officers from left: 2nd Lt. and Sec/Treas, Lenny Metrick, Captain Roger Lee Wilson, 1st Lt. Hunter Leffler, Rescue Lt. David Leffler, Rescue Capt. Eric Pierson, Training Officer Eric Fielding, and Chief Ryan Gearhart. Not pictured is Asst. Chief Robbie Forrester.
- Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper