Fire and Rescue holds award, promotion ceremony

Published 10:54 pm Thursday, March 6, 2014

Daniel Pelzel, Paramedic of the Year, and David Dickens, Firefighter of the Year, were honored during a Suffolk Fire and Rescue Promotion and Award Ceremony at The First Lady on Thursday.

Daniel Pelzel, Paramedic of the Year, and David Dickens, Firefighter of the Year, were honored during a Suffolk Fire and Rescue Promotion and Award Ceremony at The First Lady on Thursday.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue held a ceremony Thursday at The First Lady to present awards and promotions.

In the venue’s glittering ballroom, David Dickens and Daniel Pelzel were presented with award plaques for, respectively, Firefighter of the Year and Paramedic of the Year.

Dickens said he was surprised when he received the nomination.

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“It was a great feeling being nominated by my peers,” he said.

He said he was proud to be part of a ceremony that Fire Chief Cedric
Scott had earlier remarked would hopefully become an annual affair.

“Every day is a different day,” Dickens replied when asked what motivates him. “No two days are the same.”

In 1997, Scott explained to those gathered, Dickens came across to the fire department from another city department, public utilities, which he had joined in 1993.

Scott praised Dickens’ “unrelenting positivism and willingness,” saying “he embodies the ideals we should all strive for as firefighters.”

Pelzel, meanwhile, said the award was “definitely a huge honor, especially because it’s come from the guys that I work with.

“The people I work with thought enough of me to nominate me, and it means a lot coming from them.”

Before Dickens and Pelzel were invited onstage, James Dickens was officially promoted to deputy fire chief, and Williams Kessinger Sr. to battalion chief.

According to a news release, Dickens has served the city of Suffolk for 15 years. The emergency medical technician — enhanced, certified fire official has completed Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer II, and Law Enforcement Officer training. He has served as firefighter, engineer, field incident technician, and most recently as the city’s fire marshal/fire code official.

Kessinger, a third-generation firefighter, was a Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department volunteer before joining the city 14 years ago. He also is an emergency medical technician — enhanced, and has completed Fire Officer I-IV, National Fire Academy Strategies and Tactics, and Fire Instructor II training.

Addressing the guests, Mayor Linda T. Johnson honored the bravery, sacrifice and dedication of all Suffolk Fire and Rescue personnel.

“You know each call may be your last,” she said, adding they are often the first on-scene at terrible accidents, and “hold life and death in their hands.”

But they know that the rewards outweigh the risks, she said.

“Your families at times might not understand, but I’m sure that as they live each and every day, they come to.”

The city’s volunteer organizations were also recognized. Leadership members of Chuckatuck, Holland and Whaleyville volunteer fire departments, plus Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad, were in turn called onstage, while Driver Volunteer Fire Department was not represented, but still honored by Scott.

The city’s paid fire and rescue workers number 283, Scott said, including 253 full-time and about 30 part-time, adding volunteers are also “prepared to respond on a daily basis.”