Ruben Lopez Jr. named Highlands Firefighter of the Year

Firefighter of the Year Ruben Lopez

HIGHLANDS– The Volunteer Fire Department held their 2017 Installation Banquet and Awards ceremony Saturday night, January 14th at the Monument Inn.

Named to the top award as Firefighter of the Year by popular vote of the firemen, was Firefighter Ruben Lopez, Jr. The award was presented by Jim Strouhal, president of the ESD#14 board.

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 2016. Some remodeling in Station 17 was accomplished, and construction started on Station 27 on E. Wallisville Road in March.

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

The Chief also reported on EMS accomplishments for 2016. There were 227 major trauma calls, including heart attacks and strokes. The department success rate was 55% in getting a return to circulation enroute to the hospital. This department now has 22 part time paid crew. 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.

Chief Little reviewed the history of the department for 2016. He noted that there were 2553 calls for service, compared with last year’s 2489. 1870 EMS calls of which 941 required transport to a hospital, and 738 fire responses, about the same as last year. Life Flight was called 25 times, compared with 20 last year. The department responded to 188 Motor Vehicle Accidents.

Membership in the HVFD stands at 71: 40 regular, 7 apprentices, 2 juniors, 18 retirees (not in the total), 22 EMS part-time.

Service Awards were presented to members of the department. Other awards presented by Chief Little included Citizen of the Year, to Leslie Selph, and Business of the Year, to David Sellers Full Service Auto Repair.

Junior Firefighter of the Year went to Ryan Lopez, and Rookie of the Year t