Volunteer spirit honoredPublished 8:57pm Friday, February 21, 2014
The recipient of Whaleyville Volunteer Fire Department’s 2013 Chief’s Award lives and breathes helping others.
Charles “Chuck” Brothers, the department’s chief, bestowed the award on Josh Towers during the department’s annual Christmas party in December.
“I was pretty surprised,” said Towers, in his eighth year with the department. “I wasn’t expecting it. I know there’s a lot of criteria you have to meet; there’s certain things the chief looks for.”
Prior to marrying and moving to Whaleyville, Towers volunteered with Eastover Fire Department in his native North Carolina for almost 10 years.
“It’s always been a part of my life, the fire department and volunteering, since I was a teenager,” he said.
Towers is also an EMT for the Whaleyville department, which runs emergency medical and fire services. He works as a medic for Eagle Medical Transports in Newport News.
“This is what I know,” he said of the services he provides in both his work and volunteer roles. “I love it.”
As well as volunteer units, the Whaleyville department also houses a city of Suffolk engine and ambulance. The station on Whaleyville Boulevard has four to six paid city staff on any given day, Towers said.
“We run hand-in-hand with them,” he said. “When city trucks go in for a call, our guys will come and will back-staff the station,” to respond to any subsequent calls.
Towers is among roughly 25 volunteers, he said. He added they are generally well-respected by their paid brethren.
“A lot of the paid staff, if a couple of us volunteers showed up to a fire, they know (that we know) what we are doing; they have no problem letting us run a hose line and assist them on the scene.”
Chief Brothers said he selected the award winner based on “a lot of things: the integrity of the person, his willingness to give back to the community, and that’s not only to the fire department, that’s (also) to his fellow neighbors.
“One person sticks out from the rest one year to the next. I watch and see how their motivation is in the organization and the community.”
Towers said there was “no way to really explain” the camaraderie of the department.
“In regular day-to-day life, they are there to help you out,” he said of the membership. “The guys and girls. If you need someone to help move, you call one of them up.”