NORTH FORSYTH — The Forsyth County Fire Department honored new and experienced firefighters alike during a ceremony Friday night.
The event, which features ceremonies for awards and promotions, as well as graduation for a recruit class, was held in North Forsyth High School’s auditorium.
“Periodically, the Forsyth County Fire Department reviews events of significance that have been nominated for particular acts of heroism or actions that result in a life saved,” explained Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers.
“Additionally, teamwork being the hallmark of the American fire service, specific instances that result in decisive and extraordinary efforts of our company are reviewed for unit citation awards.”
Seventeen such awards were presented for a variety of acts, ranging from a plane crash and births to fires and rescues.
Some of those who were helped by firefighters were present and spoke during the event.
“I’ve been in this county a long time and watched this fire department grow, it’s a great thing to see what it’s evolved to,” said Darryl Bagwell, who suffered cardiac arrest while cycling along Buford Highway.
“I can’t thank these gentlemen enough for what they did, for their response, for their professionalism. It’s just overwhelming to me.”
He also thanked local nurse Carrie Stone, who helped him until emergency personnel could arrive.
The special guest speaker for the graduation was Eddie Robinson, assistant fire chief of neighboring Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services.
“The things you’ve that you’ve accomplished, don’t lose sight of when you don this uniform,” Robinson told the 18 graduating firefighters.
“Every day of your life from this point forward you will be referred to as a firefighter, even though firefighting is only a small part of this job. What you have chosen to do is a calling.”
In addition to the normal firefighter training, the recruit class — which chose the name “Bad Company”— was the first to be required to complete EMT training.
During the ceremony, graduates were assigned to their stations, where they will work as probationary firefighters for 12 months.
The class included: Kendal Ryan Ammons, Mitchell Austin Bauer, Devyn Christopher Blackmore, John Christian Bowman, Zachary Alex Coleman, Cameron James Collins, Jacob Aaron Cox, Anthony Robert DiMercurio, Joshua Kane Harker, James Isaac Henry Kimbrough, Matthey Thomas Lilley, Tony Allen Moore, Nicholas Collin Provost, Matthew David Rowley, Jonathan Russell Shea, Jason Westley Smith, John Sims Stancel and David Dylan Stow.
The 18 graduates started as a group of 20 before losing two along the way. Fire Chief Danny Bowman said those who completed the training would be critical to the community.
“Never again, until the day they die, will they ever truly be off duty,” Bowman said. “They will be looked upon to protect life and property from disaster. Many will seek the position in which they stand this evening. Few, very few, will achieve this goal.
The ceremony also celebrated the promotion of several department personnel members.
Justin Lee Suggs was promoted from lieutenant to battalion chief. Firefighter/EMTs Patrick Doss Anderson, Joshua Lloyd Brown, William Matthew Burtle and Jonathon Michael McPherson and Firefighter/Paramedic Brian Patrick DeStefano were promoted to fire lieutenants.
Also receiving promotions were Fire Inspectors Robert Lee Majow, who will serve as plans reviewer, and Edward Walter Siggelkow, who was promoted to senior fire inspector, and Ronald Scott Kennedy, who was promoted to fire instructor.