Lt. Chad Smith, a volunteer with Holland Volunteer Fire Department, was named its 2013 Firefighter of the Year.
Lt. Chad Smith, a volunteer with Holland Volunteer Fire Department, was named its 2013 Firefighter of the Year.

Holland VFD names Firefighter of the Year

Published 7:56pm Saturday, March 1, 2014

If you can help someone then you should do so, says Holland Volunteer Fire Department’s 2013 Firefighter of the Year, Lt. Chad Smith.

Smith said he joined the department in April 2011 at the invitation of department chief Mark Ellis.

“He said, ‘Now you live out here, why don’t you come and join?’” Smith said. “I said, ‘OK.’ It was really that simple.”

But what has kept Smith giving to the organization of his time, energy and expertise, he explains, is “just the friends-and-neighbors thing.”

“I live two miles down the road — these are my neighbors,” he said. “There is something about helping neighbors. I don’t know; it’s just the way I was raised. If you have the ability to help someone, you probably should.”

Why else does Smith stick with the department? “You get to drive a million-dollar piece of equipment and get to go fight fires,” he also said.

“I enjoy driving the fire truck. I’m one of the pump operators, and there isn’t but a couple of us.”

Smith reckoned the department had between 26 and 30 active volunteers. The station also has full-time city firefighters.

For his living, Smith installs sprinkler systems for fire protection and has done so for almost 16 years.

“My mom was a nurse and my dad did fire protection,” he said. Volunteering with the department, he added, “is kind of a combination of their two careers.”

Smith said he ran 74 calls and logged more than 500 hours of duty in 2013. Ellis said that, every year, its previous two recipients select the award’s new recipient.

“He lives close by and it seems like he’s always available, not only running calls but any type of repairs and equipment that needs taking care of,” Ellis said of Smith.

“It comes down to a lot of dedication; his commitment to training in the past couple of years has been outstanding. Not only his own training, but he makes sure that everybody is taken care of.”

Working with paid staff, as well as other departments on larger jobs — such as last year’s peanut warehouse fire in Courtland — volunteers have to learn to form working relationships quickly, Smith said.

“You have to put all that stuff aside and just trust the guy or the girl beside you,” he said.

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