By RYAN SHERIDAN
Daily Press writer
Craig Fire/Rescue and the Craig Fire District named Bill Johnston Firefighter of the Year for 2001, and Randy Decker Unsung Hero of the Year, at their annual awards banquet.
They were recognized for their dedication, commitment and efforts for the Craig Fire/Rescue team.
Johnston's educational work and Hazardous Materials (Haz-Mat) team leadership helped him earn the Firefighter of the Year award.
"Bill was honored for working at a very high level of professionalism," said Roy Mason, Craig Fire Chief. "He dedicates a lot of his time to the department as Assistant Chief.
"Bill is always teaching our firefighters, helping them to be better and keeping us prepared. He's also done a lot of work with the Moffat County Haz-Mat team he serves as chief of that team and oversees the Haz-Mat team when it's in action."
This is the first time Johnston has won this award, and he was "stunned" when he was announced as the winner.
"It's very humbling. I'm honored," Johnston said. "It's especially meaningful when your own peers are respecting your efforts."
The east coast terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, and the subsequent bravery and sacrifice of the rescue workers made this award even more poignant to Johnston.
"First of all, September eleventh made me even more proud to be a firefighter," he said. "After what I watched, what my brothers and sisters went through, being named Firefighter of the Year means more to me than ever."
Decker was also surprised that he had been honored by being named Unsung Hero of the Year.
"I was shocked. I didn't expect it," Decker said. "I just do my job I didn't expect any award for that. It took me by surprise, because everyone did their job, and I did my job."
To Decker, he only did what he saw as his job, but to Mason and Craig Fire Rescue, Decker's efforts were laudable as an individual who doesn't receive a lot of credit for his work, and doesn't hear a lot of praise for his contributions as the head of Craig Fire/Rescue's maintenance department.
"Randy was honored because of all the work he puts into maintaining our trucks," Mason said. "He keeps our department running by putting in an awful lot of his own time Saturdays, late hours to working on the trucks and scheduling all the in-house and regular service."
In addition to the aforementioned awards, two teams that represented Craig Fire/Rescue in state competition were also recognized at the banquet. The teams were honored for their accomplishments, with one of the department's teams winning the competition that pits firefighting teams from departments statewide against each other.
That was the team of Byron Willems, Todd Reece and Dave Crabtree that won the state title, and set a new record in the Firefighters competition.
The second team of Kamisha Siminoe, Steve Foster and Rob Hampton was also recognized.