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Award came as shock to Firefighter of Year

Charles "Bubba" Gibson has been helping people for more than 20 years.

As a volunteer firefighter helping to fight fires and rescue people trapped in wrecks, Mr. Gibson helps others simply because he cares.

The 43-year-old Thomson man has received special recognition as the 2009 Firefighter of The Year by McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services.

The honor came during the fire department's annual banquet held in the fellowship hall of Thomson First Baptist Church.

"This recognition was long overdue," said Fire Chief Bruce Tanner.

"Bubba was most deserving of this award, because of his dedication in serving others in this county. I'm very proud of what he has accomplished and because he is a member of this fire department. He's a great fellow. We're all very proud of him."

Chief Tanner, addressing an estimated crowd of 150 firefighters and special guests, said Mr. Gibson is well-known for his quiet and calm personality.

"He is one of the first firefighters to enter the structure and is usually one of the last one to leave after completing salvage and overhaul," said Chief Tanner. "He never complains about some of the more undesirable tasks such as hose loading and putting equipment back in service after a call. I have never heard him say a harsh word to anyone and he has the ability to work with everyone in the department."

The honor came as "a total shock," said Mr. Gibson, who works as co-manager of the Bi-Lo in Thomson.

"I really couldn't believe it when Chief Tanner called out my name," said Mr. Gibson. "It's an honor to be recognized as firefighter of the year, but I can tell you there are many other deserving people in this department. This award was something I never expected to receive."

Mr. Gibson, a 1984 graduate of Thomson High School, said the recognition "is the biggest honor I've ever received in my life. It's real special to me. It's an honor I'll never forget."

Mr. Gibson, who worked from being a bagger to a member of the management team at Bi-Lo, said he does what he does because he cares about the needs of others.

"It's a very rewarding feeling to help people," said Mr. Gibson, who joined the county fire department when he was 19. Less than a year later, he also joined the City of Thomson Fire Department as a volunteer firefighter.

Mr. Gibson, who also works part-time job as a hardwood floor installer, said he enjoys working with both fire departments.

"I've always wanted to help people wherever they needed help," Mr. Gibson said during an interview with The McDuffie Mirror on Sunday. "That's why I decided to join both the county and city fire departments a long time ago."

Since being with the McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services, Mr. Gibson has completed numerous training courses. They include: FDC Basic 101 Firefighter, Flammable Liquids Fire Control, GEMA ICS/EOC Interface, GEMA Haz-Mat Awareness, GEME Rescue Specialist, GEMA Crash Victim Extrication, Helicopter Landing Zone Coordinator Class, GEMA Infection Control, Georgia First Responder, Storm Spotter Training Course and NPQ Haz-Mat Operations.

Two of his favorite projects within the fire departments are fire prevention and education.

Mr. Gibson is married to Lori Gibson, head bookkeeper at the Bi-Lo in Washington, Ga. He has a son, Samuel, 19, and a step-son, Tyler Owens, 10, a fourth-grader at R.L. Norris Elementary School in Thomson.

Web posted on Thursday, November 26, 2009

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