Heatherly Named Career Firefighter Of Year; Honored For 40 Years Of Service

Thursday, November 14, 2019 - by Mitch Talley, Whitfield County Director of Communications

Fresh off a year that included the opening of their 12th station and the arrival of two new fire engines, Whitfield County firefighters received recognition for their efforts during 2019 at the 42nd Annual Firefighter’s Appreciation Banquet on Nov. 5 at the Dalton Golf & Country Club.

“Our department is now 42 years old and going strong,” Chief Ed O’Brien told the crowd. “2019 has had its share of difficult times, but as we look back, it was another busy and productive year for the department and the citizens we protect.”

He reflected on a ribbon-cutting ceremony in October for the department’s 12th fire station, located on South Riverbend Road – an expansion that will lead to lower insurance rates for homeowners within five miles of the facility.

Chief O’Brien also said that the department had put two new Pierce fire engines into service and hired the remaining staff for Station 12, upping the number of personnel to 110.

“Each shift has 34 personnel assigned to protect and serve the public,” the chief said. “Who would have ever thought that staffing would be this high?”

Chief O’Brien said county firefighters are averaging more than 450 calls and 700 responses each month and through the day of the banquet had already run 4,726 alarms and 7,080 individual responses.

“All the latest and greatest equipment is great,” he said, “but the items that make me the proudest is our service to the citizens that is above and beyond handling emergency incidents.”

Chief O’Brien pointed to several such programs, including the Clown Posse, which in its 19th year promoted fire safety to more than 4,000 elementary students; Baseball Buddies, with firefighters and their families volunteering at the Miracle Field; Boot Drive, which collected a record $22,972.89 in four hours on one October Saturday; and Santa in Uniform, which will provide a special Christmas to less fortunate children on Dec. 17.

Chief O’Brien, a 32-year veteran firefighter, also talked about “The Brotherhood.”

“Some think it’s just the uniform, badge, and big red truck,” he said. “Brotherhood is the understanding that we are all in this together, and as a team we can outperform any expectation set before us. Brotherhood is about relying on each other when the deck has been dealt against us on or off duty. Brotherhood is the reality that we can count on each other when we are down. Brotherhood is the understanding that above all differences in opinions, feuds, hurt feelings and just plain old not getting along, you understand that you have a duty to all firefighters equally.

“This day and age, we need the Brotherhood more than anything. We must continue to light that fire in our new personnel and make sure that the fire continues to burn in our veterans. If you have the Brotherhood inside you, it’s your duty to keep it alive.”

Commission Chairman Lynn Laughter also addressed the firefighters earlier in the banquet, saying, “I was thinking, if I had to describe a Whitfield County firefighter in one word, what would that word be? Maybe respect, admiration given by others, which can also mean appreciation or honor or high esteem. Maybe dependable would be the one word, someone you can count on, faithful to the task, always there when needed. Maybe first, as in first responder, there at the beginning, leading. Then I thought one word can never be enough to describe my respect and admiration for your dependability as firefighters and first responders. I am proud of you as Whitfield County firefighters for what you do and for what you are willing to do.”

Lt. Jeff Heatherly, who also received a 40-year service award, was named Career Firefighter of the Year.

“As most everyone in this room is aware, Whitfield County Fire Department has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years,” Battalion Chief Nathan Callaway said before presenting the award to Heatherly. “In my opinion, the increase in full-time staffing has become the greatest asset to the department. This year, there were more than 96 personnel eligible to receive Career Firefighter of the Year. With this many personnel, it is not an easy task to pick just one person.
“I think what stood out about this year’s recipient is that he’s always willing to take on any task no matter how mundane and see it through to the end no matter how long it may take. His attention to detail provides administration with peace of mind that any job assigned to him will be concluded accurately and on time. As a veteran member of the department, he has a willingness to share his knowledge with anyone that’s willing to listen. He enjoys training other members of the department both through assisting the training division and by setting up impromptu drills with neighboring stations.”

Also honored as Firefighter of the Year (given to the top pay-per-call member of the department) was Capt. Neil Ratcliff.

Command staff also helped hand out service awards to Heatherly and several other firefighters, including:
35 years - Battalion Chief Ricky Lloyd 
30 years – Lt. Shawn Damon, Eng. Dennis Green, and Lt. Mike Miracle   
25 years – Eng. Michael Blair and Capt. Gary Hamrick
20 years – Lt. Robert Kendall and Lt. Jeff Ownby
15 years – Eng. Jason Boyd, Lt. Randall Boyd, Lt. Robert Buhl, Battalion Chief Nathan Callaway, Lt. Josh Key, Lt. Ranon Lane, Eng. Sam Laney, Lt. Kyle Lawless, Lt. Jason Phillips, and Lt. Wesley Williams  
10 years – Eng. Jacob Chester, Eng. Charles Heard, and Eng. Tate Metcalf
5 years – Eng. J.R. Foster, Eng. David Freiberg, Chief Edward O’Brien, and Eng. Brady Walters.

Lt. Gary  Smith received the 2019 First Responder of the Year award presented by Hamilton EMS Director Scott Radeker.

“One of the things I do want to stress,” Director Radeker said, “in an equipment-heavy world, where brand names, expensive monitoring equipment, and expensive life-saving equipment are available to us, we can’t forget the human touch. We can bring all the equipment in the world to the aid of our patients, but without the people to make it work, it’s useless.”


Fashionetta 2019 Will Be Dec. 14

Christmas At The Courthouse School Performances Continue Next Week

CDOT Announces Events And Road Closures For Dec. 7-8


The Ivy Rose Foundation, Inc. and the Pi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s triennial production of Fashionetta will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Chattanooga Convention ... (click for more)

The annual Christmas at the Courthouse concert series showcase will continue next week with student ensembles from 11 more Hamilton County Schools set to perform. “This decades-old tradition ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Department of Transportation announces the following events and road closures for Dec. 7-8: MainX24 MainX24 Parade - East and West Main Street between Stayton Street and ... (click for more)


Happenings

Fashionetta 2019 Will Be Dec. 14

The Ivy Rose Foundation, Inc. and the Pi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.’s triennial production of Fashionetta will be held Saturday, Dec. 14, at the Chattanooga Convention Center at 6 p.m. This year’s theme is “Fashionetta 2019 – A Dream Comes True.” Fashionetta is a traditional expansion program of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. that was conceived in ... (click for more)

Christmas At The Courthouse School Performances Continue Next Week

The annual Christmas at the Courthouse concert series showcase will continue next week with student ensembles from 11 more Hamilton County Schools set to perform. “This decades-old tradition for Hamilton County Government recognizes public servants and elected officials with sounds of the season provided by students from elementary, middle, and high schools in Hamilton County ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Chattanooga Man Charged With Killing Huntsville Police Officer

A Chattanooga man has been charged with killing a Huntsville Police officer on Friday night. LaJeromeny Brown, 41, is facing a capital murder charge.was arrested Friday night. Police had set up a drug buy at a house on Levert Street. Police said Brown immediately shot Billy Clardy III. He was struck outside his bulletproof vest. Brown tried to flee, but was soon captured. ... (click for more)

Woman Dies From Injuries Sustained In Wreck Last Tuesday At Frazier Avenue And River Street

A woman has died from injuries sustained last Tuesday in a wreck at Frazier Avenue and River Street. The victim was Glenda Harris, 61. At approximately 5:55 a.m., the Chattanooga Police Department's Traffic Unit responded to 400 Frazier Ave. on the single-vehicle traffic crash. The Dodge Ram 1500 driven by Ms. Harris was traveling east on Frazier Avenue. It merged onto ... (click for more)

Opinion

A Better Plan Is Needed For Quarry Golf Course At Mountain Creek

With regard to the ongoing saga of the old Quarry golf course and its proposed development, I reject the proposed plan endorsed by the North Chickamauga Creek Conservancy (Chattanoogan - Breaking News 11/30/2019) and believe a better outcome can be achieved. There is a middle ground that involves all R-1 construction including preserving the tree, greenspace, streams and ponds. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

Hot dog for every December and here we go! We at The Saturday Funnies relish in each December because it is during this time many of the best stories are borne. From Thanksgiving to Christmas each year is a “busy street” and over these holidays, which we dutifully celebrate because of a very real and ever-revealing Christ-child, and not just from the teacher’s advancement, we will ... (click for more)