The Forsyth County Fire Department celebrated an evening of tradition and progress on Friday.
Several firefighters received awards, a few earned promotions and a recruit class graduated to join the ranks.
The 10 newest firefighters represented what Fire Division Chief Jason Shivers described as a “very successful recruit class,” since all of the candidates made it through the 14 weeks of intense training.
The class also posted the highest academic average in the history of the county’s training program.
They named their group “Hell Hounds” and chose the three words of motivation for a firefighter of strength, honor and courage.
Fire Chief Danny Bowman impressed the importance of the job upon them after they received their station assignments.
“Many will seek the position in which they stand this evening. Few, very few, will achieve that goal,” Bowman said. “These men must live by the vow that a coward dies a thousand deaths, a fireman dies but once.”
Keynote speaker Karen Brack, chief of the Charleston, S.C., Fire Department, reminded the men to take pride in their work, but also to do their jobs with humility.
“Always remember that this job is a gift and a privilege,” Brack said.
The Forsyth department presented 20 awards to firefighters whose actions helped save a life or went beyond the call of duty.
The final honor went to Paul McAfee for pulling a fellow firefighter to safety while fighting a structure fire Oct. 18.
McAfee grabbed the firefighter from a hole he had been unable to climb out of. It was an action that the man said saved his life.
McAfee also received a promotion to lieutenant, as did Sam Adams, Jason Keyman and William Witcher.
Zachary Buice and Paige Colwell earned the rank of battalion chief, promoted from lieutenant.
Steve Baker was promoted from senior plans reviewer to deputy fire marshal, and Joseph Smith from lieutenant to fire instructor.