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36 firefighters named Forsyth County’s first sergeants
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Those who were promoted

Firefighters promoted to sergeant on Monday: John Shaw Allen, Jeremiah Lee Anderson, William Scott Chadwick, Matthew John Clark, David Michael Cody, Brian Ray Cornatzer, Shawn Allen Corrigan, Mathias Mark Groover, Matthew John Hodge, Brian David Kozikowski, Les Garrison Leger, Lance Richard Leuliette, David Luke Martin , Roy Dawson Padgett, Kenneth Darrell Phillips, Tyler Jared Smith and Stephen Paul Tabaka.

Firefighters promoted on Wednesday: William Grady Bean, Jonathan Howard Capps, James Clayton Cook, Glen Allen Everett, Brian Charles Hampton, Benjamin Patrick Hedges, Jason Michael Kidwell, Kevin Bradley Lindsey, Clint Edward Lively, Michael Scott Madsen, Michael Alan McCarthy, Chad O’Neil McPherson, Stanley Thomas Moore, Brandon Paul Nash, Josh Anthony Phillips, Thomas Gerald Schofield, Timothy Matthew Smallwood, Christopher Dwight Warren and Jeffery Eugene Weaver.

FORSYTH COUNTY -- Family members gathered around Forsyth County firefighters this week as they were promoted to the county’s first fire sergeants.

During ceremonies on Monday and Wednesday nights at the Forsyth County Public Safety Complex, the Forsyth County Fire Department promoted 36 firefighters to the rank of sergeant, the first in the county.

“I have expectations of you,” Fire Chief Danny Bowman told the sergeants on Monday. “In the absence of a company officer, you, my friends, are in charge. When you’re in charge, you take charge. You will seek out that company officer every morning and get whatever the goals are for that day, and you will make it happen.

“Not the lieutenant. Not the battalion chief. You, sergeants.”

Bowman compared the needs of the department to the importance of military sergeants.

“With that, we had a void in our ranks,” Bowman said. “Think Army — how would you ever go into combat with officers and enlisted and no sergeants? You’d lose every war. Every battle you entered, you would lose.”

As they were promoted, the sergeants invited family, friends or other members of the department to replace their firefighter badge with one for the new rank.

In both ceremonies, all sergeants were assigned as fire apparatus operators, which Bowman said meant responsibility for one of the department’s biggest and most recognizable tools.

“Another thing I’m assigning you is a half-a-million dollar fire truck, if it’s a hook and ladder, $1.3 million,” he said. “That is an assigned piece of equipment to you. No one makes any changes, moves any equipment, cranks or opens a cabinet on that fire truck without your knowledge. It’s your piece of equipment.”

Bowman said from 1972 to 1998, the department had no paid positions, though that gradually evolved to the current department’s 196 personnel. The rank had been pushed for by retired-Deputy Chief Dwight Wilson Clark, who passed away in March.

“That’s all very well, however, there was an issue: It was very clear that there was a rank missing that Chief Clark wanted so badly in this department, and that was the rank of sergeant,” Bowman said. “The Board of Commissioners listened to Chief Clark’s argument, and finally it was approved in this year’s budget.”

Clark’s son, Matthew John Clark, was among those promoted to sergeant.

During both ceremonies, firefighters also remembered Gary Patty, the department’s longest-serving volunteer, who passed away over the weekend.

On Wednesday, the department recognized Battalion Chief Lee Parker for completing the National Fire Academy’s Executive Officer Program, a graduate level course that Bowman said “spans a four-year period of exceedingly difficult studies.”

“I would like to say thank you to, first, my wife for putting up with me studying and all the time I had to put in to get the papers written,” Parker said, “[and] to the firefighters in this department that dealt with research projects and did surveys for me and just kind of supported me during this whole time – I really appreciate it.”