Lt. Chris Reynolds was named the 2009 Firefighter of the Year by members of the Thomson Fire Department during their annual banquet held at the Thomson Depot last Saturday night.
Fire Chief Rick Sewell also was honored for 40 years with the department. He went from serving as a firefighter to overseeing operations of the city fire department.
Lt. Reynolds, a second generation firefighter, joined Thomson Fire Department in 1997 after having worked several years in the family business known as Reynolds Plumbing and Electric.
"This is a really big honor," said Lt. Reynolds, while being interviewed by The McDuffie Mirror . "It's the biggest honor that I've ever received. It's real special to me."
One of the reasons the honor is significant to him is that it marks the first time firefighters were extended the opportunity to vote on the firefighter they believe most deserving of such recognition.
"It means a lot to me, because this is what my peers think about me," said Lt. Reynolds. "It's real special and humbling to receive such an award from fellow firefighters that I work with all the time."
Prior to coming onboard with Thomson Fire Department, Lt. Reynolds worked as a volunteer firefighter with McDuffie County Fire/Rescue Services from 1988 until 2003. Lt. Reynolds' father, Creig Reynolds, served as a volunteer firefighter with the county for many years. His brother, Bobby Reynolds, is a captain with the county fire department.
Lt. Reynolds, who was accompanied to the banquet by his wife, Janice, head registered nurse at Martinez Urgent Care in Columbia County, serves as the city fire inspector and works closely with Capt. Paul Johnson teaching new recruits.
"I can't see myself doing anything else in life, but working as a firefighter," said Lt. Reynolds, who has four children and four grandchildren. "Once firefighting gets in your blood, it's there to stay."
Deputy Chief Johnny Crawley told those at the banquet that the firefighter of the year award "is based on exceptional conduct, performance of duties, involvement, contributions and commitment to this department."
Also included in the criteria are the actions made at fire scenes and continuous involvement in training, etc.
"Beginning this year, we decided to include a voice from all firefighters in the form of a voting process," said Deputy Chief Crawley. "This department takes pride in its tradition of honoring firefighters who have given their best for the good of its co-workers, friends and neighbors of this city."
In paying tribute to Lt. Reynolds, Deputy Chief Crawley said he had demonstrated his ability to be "an integral part of the training division, helping to educate firefighters in proper suppression techniques. He also has demonstrated a true devotion to the fire service as his chosen profession. He is an articulate team member of this department and displays a willingness to assist others in any capacity at any time."
Lt. Reynolds' teamwork has been manifested with skill, added Deputy Chief Crawley.
"He has been a key person in extra-curricular activity for this department and any other work beyond fire suppression duties," said the veteran fire official. "He possesses numerous certificates, some of which include, but are not limited to being a certified firefighter, public life and safety educator, rescue specialist, medical first responder, etc."
Chief Sewell, meanwhile, said of Lt. Reynolds, "He's most deserving of the recognition of Firefighter of the Year. He's a big asset to our department."
Chief Sewell told firefighters how much he appreciates everything they do within and outside of the fire department. His sentiments were shared by Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry and City Councilman, the Rev. John Smalley.