At Friday’s annual Princeton Volunteer Fire Department awards banquet, two medical first responder emergency calls interrupted the evening’s event and demonstrated why the community values the department.
The first one was a code blue call in which a 45-year-old male was resuscitated with CPR. Fire Chief Ken Starling said he was alive when the crew left the hospital.
The second call was a difficulty breathing call.
Chaplain Kenneth Starling had just prayed the blessing over the meal when the dispatcher announced an emergency at a residence on Fellowship Church Road.
Firefighters dashed out of the dinner line and raced to the scene. While the firefighters were out on the first call, they were dispatched to a second call.
Once the firefighters returned, the evening resumed. Bob Braswell was named the 2016 Fireman of the Year and Brian Pilkington was presented the 2016 Office of the Year Award.
“I want to thank these guys who always stop whatever they’re doing when emergencies arise,” said Fire Chief Ken Starling. “I appreciate the effort everyone puts in.”
There were three firefighters award 25-year pins: Chad Driver, Ashley Rains and Jason Worley. One new firefighter, Cameron Rogers, was sworn in and received his badge.
During 2016, Princeton firefighters responded to 250 first responder calls and 176 fire calls. Starling said one of the year’s highlights was the change in the radio system throughout Johnston County.
Starling said the department would add a new $520,000 fire truck.
“Most fire departments buy trucks and then finance,” said Starling. “When our truck arrives in June, we’ll be able to pay it off.”
At five cents, the Princeton Volunteer Fire Department has the lowest fire tax rate in Johnston County and it’s remained the same since 1955.
“We have a nice building, trucks and equipment,” said Starling. “Our guys do the handyman work and maintenance.”
This year’s speaker was Assistant Fire Chief Randy Jones.
“It’s a unique experience to speak to your peers, the ones you love and respect, the ones who have your back,” said. Jones.
Jones challenged his fellow firefighters about the kind of influence they want to be on the people with whom they come in contact and emphasized the importance of good character, positive relationships and how they use their knowledge.
The fire department has an incentive program for firefighters where they receive a credit points for every hour spent on calls, in training and participation in other services.
Butch Holland received top honors with $440.64 in credits for 77 training hours, attending 10 department meetings, and going out on 299 calls, 166 of which were first responder calls during the day.
Holland and the other firefighters can redeem their coupons at Princeton area businesses.