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Fireman of the Year named in Nashville

Michael Staten is the Fireman of the Year for 2016 as chosen by members of the department in secret ballot. The award was presented last Tuesday at the NVFD’s annual Christmas party. The department has presented the award since 1987.

By Louie Graves
News-Leader staff

He says he’d never given a thought about being a fireman until he started dating the fire marshal’s daughter.

And last week, Michael Staten — now a nearly three-veteran of the department and married to the fire marshal’s daughter — was chosen by his fellow firemen in a secret ballot for the Fireman of the Year honor.

Staten says he clearly remembers  his first fire call — a house fire in Nashville — and he says he appreciates the comaraderie and professionalism of his fellow firemen.

Staten received the coveted award last week at the department’s annual Christmas party.

Other awards were handed out at the event:

*Former chief Terry Ray, now an assistant chief, was presented his 28-year service pin. The department stops counting years of service after 28 years.

*Special recognition for another former chief, Cliff Petty, for his dedication to National Fire Prevention Week child safety activities at schools for nearly a quarter-century.

*15-year service pin to Roger Bennett; 10-year service pin to Jeff Westfall; five-year service pins to Andrew Westfall, Justin Thornton, and Josh Worley.

Fire Marshal Harwell said that the face of the department had been considerably changed in recent years.

For one thing, firemen are no longer ‘volunteers,’ but are considered to be parttime, on-call employees of the city. They are paid $35 per call. They have continuing education and other mandatory training.

At one time, in order to be selected to fill one of the rare openings in the department, hopefuls had to go meet members of the department and lobby for their approval. Now, someone who wants to be a fireman needs to fill out an application which is available at Harwell’s office at the main fire station.

The department includes 25 individuals, up from previous years, but the manpower needs are greater now because many members have jobs that prevent them from answering every call.

Harwell said, also, that there were no applications in 2016.

Since the Fireman of the Year Award was started, winners have been:

1987 Roy Blakely

1988 James Daniel

1989 Terry Ray

1990 James Dyer

1991 Cliff Petty

1992 Ronny Woods

1993 Jerry Harwell

1994 Cliff Petty

1995 Roy Blakely

1996 Jimmy Mixon

1997 Bobby Chambers

1998 Jimmy Mixon

1999 Joe Dallas

2000 Gary Funderburk

2001 Alfred Neeley

2002 Matt Smith

2003 Mike Kinkade

2004 Terry Ray

2005 Matt Smith

2006 Jeff Westfall

2007 Jeff Westfall

2008 Jimmy Mixon

2009 Jeff Westfall

2010 Jeff Westfall

2011 Jeff Westfall

2012 Josh Worley

2013 Josh Worley

2014 Russell Sparks

2015 Andrew Westfall

2016 Michael Staten

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