The Lindale Volunteer Fire Department was recognized by Smith County Commissioners Court Tuesday with a resolution proclaiming January 26, 2016, as “Lindale Volunteer Fire Department Day.” The Lindale area suffered several disasters in 2015, including tornadoes in northwest Smith County on May 10, in Lindale on December 12, and flooding on December 27.

“I am so very proud of the Lindale Volunteer Fire Department and the way they responded to and handled the tornado in Lindale,” Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson said. “It was a job very well done, from their response to doing what they do every day, which is caring for and helping the citizens of their community.”

Commissioner Terry Phillips said he appreciates all of the hard work the firefighters have done to keep the community safe.

“The whole community of Lindale depends on these guys to be there during the most difficult times,” he said. “They show up during snow, ice, sleet or rain.”

Commissioner Phillips said he doesn’t remember any other time in recent history that the Lindale area saw so many weather-related disasters as it did in 2015.

“The leadership of the Lindale Fire Chief Jerry Garner exemplified wisdom, knowledge and experience, which was portrayed through his officers and fellow firefighters,” the resolution states. “The firefighters exhibited a tireless effort throughout the disasters, executed flawless rescue and recovery operations and always maintained professionalism and a steady demeanor.”

Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said the community can see Chief Garner’s leadership through all of his firemen. “They are out there to serve and protect their community,” she said.

She said they showed that well with their fast and amazing response to the tornado that hit Lindale in September.

“It doesn’t matter what hour, what time of day it is, they’re going to be there,” she said.

The firefighters went house-to-house, checking on everyone living in the area ravaged by the tornado. They also helped with the cleanup and coordinated with other agencies to bring in more help.

After the December 27 rains, roads were flooded. The firefighters rescued several people stranded in or atop their cars. They used all of their training to rescue people, Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said.

Chief Garner said all of the credit went to the members of the department, whom he called dedicated and hardworking. He said it was an honor for him to serve as their chief.

FIRE MARSHAL’S STAFF RECOGNIZED

Four people who work for the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office were also recognized Tuesday by Mrs. McCoy-Wasson during Commissioners Court.

Assistant Fire Marshals Eric Lowry and Trey Glover were honored with a plaque for their “countless hours, tireless efforts and for going above and beyond the call of duty during the 2015 tornadoes and flooding disasters of the northwestern portions of Smith County.”

Both men served as volunteers before being hired as assistant fire marshals.

“Your dedication before and after employment with the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office and The Office of Emergency Management, both in the field and administratively, is greatly appreciated,” the plaque reads.

After the Van tornado hit in May, Lowry and Glover helped the Dixie Volunteer Fire Department rescue people. Two days later, when it was discovered the tornado had also damaged an area of northern Smith County they were constantly running there for two weeks, working from dawn to well after dark to help with the cleanup.

During the May tornadoes in Van and Smith County alone, Lowry logged in 148 volunteer hours and Glover volunteered 144 hours of his time, she said.

Lowry became volunteer assistant fire marshal in 2008 and was hired as an assistant fire marshal in June 2015.

Glover worked just as tirelessly, although he was not an official volunteer for the Fire Marshal’s Office. While he wasn’t attending the police academy, he was calling the office to ask how they needed his help and offering his time. As soon as he graduated from the police academy, Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said she hired him as an assistant fire marshal on November 30, 2015.

Mrs. McCoy-Wasson recognized Assistant Fire Marshal Oren Hale for “taking on the challenges of the Animal Control Division of the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office.” Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said he has also helped her with administrative duties since she became fire marshal last year. He is so dedicated, he has taken animal control equipment home to repair it instead of it costing the county, she added.

Meghan Burger, who serves as secretary, was also recognized for her “outstanding dedication and tireless efforts … during the many disasters our office encountered during 2015.”

Ms. Burger has worked for the Fire Marshal’s Office for about a year and although she is the secretary, she has also done the job of administrative assistant since October. “She has stepped up to the plate and done the job of two people,” Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said.

Mrs. McCoy-Wasson said her office wears many hats – as fire marshal, emergency management, animal control and local Emergency Planning Committee chairwoman. Having a five-person staff do all of that says a lot about the people who work to get it done, she said.

“I didn’t want all of their hard work to go unnoticed,” she said. “I wanted them to know how much I appreciate their help. We’re a team up there; we’re a family.”