By Michael R. Moser
The Cumberland County Fire Department had fewer runs last year than the year before, but structure fires were up slightly, according to statistics released at the 32nd annual Cumberland County Fire Department banquet.
The program featured a film of the making of the 911 memorial located on the Community Complex grounds near the Central fire station. Top responders, poster contest winners and those with landmarks in length of volunteer service to the department were recognized.
Emergency Services Director Jeff Dodson said the memorial was about 95 percent complete, with firefighters and volunteers working to make the tribute to fallen firefighters a reality. He also thanked several businesses who donated supplies and labor for the project.
The big event last year was the fatal tornado that hit north of Crossville about this time last year.
Dodson released the annual statistics for the department that the department responded to 1,132 calls, which includes false alarms and alarm malfunctions. Of that figure, there were 176 traffic crashes with injuries and 195 property damage wrecks.
July was the busiest month for calls, with 134 logged, followed by May with 114.
County firefighters joined city fighters in several fund-raising events, including the annual Muscular Dystrophy drive that raised $4,000, and the annual Kettle Campaign during which firefighters from both departments rang bells to help raise money for the Salvation Army.
The two departments also had a friendly competition in an annual Red Cross blood drive.
Michael Dillman was recognized as the top responder for the department in 2012, with 168 calls answered or training sessions attended. He was followed by Roy Nieto, 154; Shawn Aytes, 141; Matthew Dillman and Josh Ireland, both 111; and David Morgan, 107.
Top District responders are Rick LaRue, 61, Central District; Darren Shaver, 99, District 3-Homestead; Joey Grogan, 41, District 3-Alloway; Hope Parsons, 106, District 4-Genesis; Chris Jenkins, 80, District 4-Peavine; Jerry DeRossett, 52, District 5-Lake Tansi; Joshua Dye, 53, District 5-Midway; and J.D. Dyer, 47, Big Lick.
Also, A.J. Benson, 79, District 6-Crab Orchard; Jeremy Cober, 100, District 6-Westel; Alex Velong, 17, District 6-Hebbertsburg; James Wattenbarger, 57, District 7-Plateau; Rob Pressley and Brandy Swanson, 57 each, District 7-Rinnie; Jeff Webb, 15, District 7-Mayland; Terry Long, 59, District 8-Pleasant Hill; and Nick Warner, 18, District 18-Taylor's Chapel.
Years of service certificates were handed out to the following volunteers:
•25 years of service — Raymond Smith, James Wattenbarger, Jesse Iles, Lannie Green, Mike Findley and James Collins.
•15 years — Monte Garrett and Clyde Winningham.
•10 years — Barney Earhart, Todd Kemmer, Colt Patterson, Kevin Baldwin, Al Seitner and Steve Hamby.
•5 years — Rob Presley, Randall Bilbrey, Josh Stamps, Daniel Coleman, Terry Long, Graig Goss, Robert Kehrman, Jeremy Hassler and Adam Owens.
This year's fire safety poster contest winners were also announced and presented plaques and prizes. Winners are:
Zoe Shepherd, Crab Orchard Elementary, kindergarten; Haley Sexton, Homestead Elementary, first grade; Breanna Palmer, Crab Orchard, second grade; Angelina Grace Lawrence, Christian Academy of the Cumberlands, third grade; Jurnee Meadows, Christian Academy, fourth grade; Rhiannon Sexton, Homestead, fifth grade; Taylor Farley, South Cumberland Elementary, sixth grade; Rose Marie Balderas, South Cumberland, seventh grade; Tanatta Eiammutita, Crab Orchard, eighth grade; and Misty Suydam, Stone Memorial High School, senior.