Preddy named honored as city's firefighter of year
Cliff Preddy, a four-year firefighter with the Henderson Fire Department, was honored Wednesday night as the Firefighter of the Year.
The award dates to 1977 and was presented by Danny Wilkerson, the city fire chief, at the annual Fireman’s Supper during Fire Prevention Week. Activities continue this evening with an open house.
Wilkerson said the supper is truly in honor of every member of his department for their dedication and sacrifice.
“The most important part of our evening is recognizing our firefighter of the year,” Wilkerson said. “I would like to say to everyone, you are my firefighter of the year.”
Wilkerson introduced Preddy as not just a rising star in the department but also a rising dad because his wife Emily is expecting to deliver a daughter, their first child, in December.
Preddy said that his thanks belonged to a supportive leadership and fellowship of department coworkers that strengthened him and encouraged the best out of him.
“Each lieutenant, each firefighter, each person has made an impact on me,” Preddy said.
Hired in November 2009, Preddy reached training goals of level two firefighter and level one fire inspector, and holds certifications in North Carolina driver/operator and aerials, meaning use of the electronic ladder systems.
In January, Preddy was promoted to department engineer.
A mentor of Preddy’s, Johnnie Ausborn, is a recently retired battalion chief. Preddy said that he was honored to take a step forward in the path that men like Ausborn helped prepare and demonstrate in their careers.
Ausborn, on hand at the supper, said that he could not help missing the life he left behind him in April. He agreed that the award ultimately typifies the dedication of the whole department as a team.
“Most of the time, it’s hard to pick just one because you have so many good guys here,” Ausborn said.
City leaders on hand for the supper said that the evening represented an important sense of confidence that Henderson residents can have in a department that stands strong in defense of their lives and property.
“Whether in the morning, one o’clock, three o’clock, you are always ready,” said city mayor Pete O’Geary. “Whenever I hear fire engines going in the streets, I know there goes the finest-trained firefighters. What you all do means so much to the city.”
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