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Firefighters recognized for service
ARLINGTON The Arlington Fire Department restarted an annual tradition by inviting the community to its awards recognition banquet in its downtown station April 26.
Steve Adkins, treasurer of the Arlington Firefighters Association, welcomed the city of Arlingtons mayor, administrator and Council members, as well as firefighters past and present, before acknowledging that this ceremony had not been conducted for some time. AFA President Brian Price thanked the firefighters for the dedication and commitment theyve demonstrated in their profession, which Support 46 Chaplain Dennis Sonsteby underscored by pointing out, The difference between firefighters and other people is that firefighters run toward and into fires, while everyone else runs away from them.
As the widow of a retired firefighter, Mayor Margaret Larson recognized the contributions of firefighters spouses to their work and recalled when the fire station was a place where the community gathered, for parties as well as emergencies. Arlington Fire Chief Jim Rankin echoed Larsons call of unity, explaining that he wanted to reestablish relationships within the fire department, as well as between the department and the community.
Rankin expressed the desire to see the creation of special sections of the AFA, including regular members, retired members, ladies auxiliary, non-firefighting support members and others. He went on to tout the departments 11 new volunteer personnel and its efforts to expand its community emergency response team, such as hiring Christine Badger as its emergency management project manager.
Rankin then presented certificates to 21 fire department members who had contributed at least five years of service, as well as certificates and posters to 11 fire department members who had contributed at least 10 years of service. Arlington firefighters Tom Cooper and Doug Schmidt received certificates, posters and photo albums for contributing 22 years of service each to the department, as did Arlington firefighter Harold Smith for his 36 years of service. Smith joked that one of his motivations to stay in as long as he had was to beat the record of Basil Davis, one of his mentors.
I finally got by him, but unfortunately, he passed away, as did Punks Smith, Smith said. Ive made this my family. This cant just be a job. Youve got to live for it.
Rankin dispensed three additional awards, the first to 16-year Arlington firefighter Dave Kraski for securing federal grants for the department. The next award went to Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson, who was named honorary deputy fire chief.
Allen and Margaret were two people who made me decide to come here, Rankin said.
As such, Larson received Rankins third award and was named honorary fire chief for Arlington. Rankin expressed his appreciation for Larson and Johnsons leadership.
Cooper concluded the banquet by reflecting on the fire department accomplishments over the years.
Weve seen a lot of lives ended and brought into the world on this job, Cooper said. Weve seen scenes we might not talk about. Weve gone into burning buildings to retrieve baby pictures and false teeth. Were quick, efficient and second to none in getting the job done. We may argue, but when the alarm goes off, we act as one. Almost on cue, the fire alarm sounded and the on-duty personnel left their seats, as Cooper added, Just like now.