McCartney named Highlands Firefighter of the Year

Brandon McCartney

HIGHLANDS– The Volunteer Fire Department held their 2016 Installation Banquet and Awards ceremony Saturday night, January 16th at the Monument Inn.

Named to the top award as Firefighter of the Year by popular vote of the firemen, was Firefighter Brandon McCartney, who passed away November 4, 2015 after a tragic illness. Brandon was a member for 9 years as a firefighter and medic.

A tribute to him was given by his friend Joseph Gamez. The award was presented by Tim Kelly, son of Cecil Kelly, for whom the award is named.

This award is given in memory of Cecil Kelly, who volunteered with the Highlands VFD for over 42 years before retiring in 1996. The recipient chosen by vote of the membership is a firefighter who performed above and beyond the call of duty.

A large crowd of firemen and families, friends, community supporters, and board members attended the dinner. Fire Chief Harvey Little emceed the ceremony, introducing awards, guests, and honorees.

Chief Little also reviewed the department accomplishments and history of service calls for 2015. Safety remained a priority, with one major at fault accident. Also, two accidents occured with fire apparatus, which were not the department’s fault. A new 2014 Dodge Diesel ambulance was put into service, and two new engines went into service in May, to replace E17 and E27.

A kitchen and remodeled day room were built at Station 17, and design work was started to build a new Station 27 on E. Wallisville Road.

Glenn Chisholm reported on accomplishments in the training of new members, and training and certification of existing firefighters. Currently 21 members have a SFFMA certificate.

Tracy Neathery reported on EMS accomplishments for 2015. This department now has 22 part time paid crew, including 3 basic EMT, 4 Intermediate, and 14 Paramedics. One ambulance is manned 24 hours, 7 days a week, every day of the year. The other ambulance runs at Peak Hours, 8 am to 6 pm. Response time averages 6 minutes. The department had 12 full heart arrests, with 6 ROSC.

Chief Little reviewed the history of the department for 2015. He noted that there were 2489 call for service, compared with last year’s 2234. 1749 EMS calls of which 981 required transport to a hospital, and 740 fire responses, up considerably from 426 last year. Life Flight was called 20 times. The department responded to 162 Motor Vehicle Accidents.

Membership in the HVFD stands at 71: 40 regular, 6 apprentices, 3 juniors, 18 retirees (not in the total), 22 EMS part-time.

Service Awards were presented to member of the department. Other awards presented by Chief Little included Citizen of the Year, to Birdsong, and Business of the Year, to 4 Corners BBQ.