Tears of excitement, happiness, and even some of sorrow were shed Oct. 28 at the annual award and badge-pinning ceremony for Gainesville Fire-Rescue.
The ceremony was full of emotions flooding from the families of the men getting sworn in, along with the two most honorable awards given by the fire department.
Tamara Seiger expressed surprise at being given the “Lifesaving Award.” She shared Asst. Chief Jason James’ story of his kidney failure discovered in 2010 on Facebook, helping spread awareness about the importance of being a kidney donor.
Brenda Anderle, the wife of deceased Lt. Doug Anderle, presented the Lt. Doug Anderle Award recognizing the “Outstanding Member of the Year.”
Capt. Randy Prestage had an emotional walk towards the front of the room, stopping to hug a few of his fellow coworkers, before collecting himself to give a few words on receiving the award.
“To know Doug, was to love being around him. Being presented this award is something very special to me,” Prestage said as he stood next to Brenda Anderle.
Prestage has been praised multiple times by different battalion chiefs along with fire chiefs for “excellent on-scene decision making” and one of the “best on-scene firefighters,” according to chief Wayne Twiner.
Before those awards had been announced, the following new or promoted fire personnel were sworn in or participated in a badge pinning:
Firefighters: Joseph Westbrook, Jordan Sparkman, Michael Case, Ethan Facio, William Boyd and Jacob Godsey.
After the announcement of the firefighters, Municipal Judge Chris Cypert stood before them, right hand raised, as they spoke the fire service oath of honor and safety.
Lieutenant: Cameron Fisher, Zane Ferguson and Paul Bacchus.
Captain: Luke Myers and Matt Edington.
Battalion Chief: Toby Reynolds.
Fire Marshal: Shannon Jeffcoat.
Wives, brothers and on one occasion the daughter of the newly sworn-in members were able to conduct the badge pinning themselves.