Praise for local firefighters


By Sandi Latimer
Staff Writer

Here are Distinguished Service Award recipient Charles Strader, Firefighter of the Year Mark Flowers and union president Scott Bowyer.
Here are Distinguished Service Award recipient Charles Strader, Firefighter of the Year Mark Flowers and union president Scott Bowyer.

Firefighter Mark Flowers works on vehicles to keep them in top working order and also volunteers with a program that allows high school students with a disability to work alongside a regular firefighter.

His fellow firefighters say Flowers goes above and beyond and is an example of what every firefighter should be.

Those qualifications were part of what earned Flowers the Jackson Township Firefighter of the Year Award. He was nominated by his fellow firefighters and presented with a plaque by the local Kiwanis Club when firefighters and township leaders gathered May 29 at an awards dinner at the Elks Club.

This was the second time in his career that he has earned the department’s top award. He won the award in 2001 and is the only firefighter who has won it more than once.

Battalion Chief Charles Strader and his crew were recognized with the Distinguished Service Award and Battalion Chief Bryan Reece was recognized upon his retirement. Reece, who started as a volunteer firefighter some 30 years ago, will become chief of the Hamilton Township Department in Warren County in southwest Ohio.

“Not only does he perform and complete the daily tasks around the station, he also goes above and beyond what is expected of him,” wrote the nominating committee of Reece and past FOTY recipients. “He regularly assists with the maintenance of our vehicles when others are enjoying their down time and makes sure our vehicles and equipment are in excellent shape and ready to respond.”

The committee also recognized Flowers for his work with students from Grove City High School with disabilities. He has overseen a department program that allows those students to work along firefighters to help them learn life skills.

Strader and his crew were recognized for their work at an auto crash on I-71 on Feb. 1 of this year. A car had rolled over and was upside down in a ditch. Two occupants had been thrown from the vehicle and one was pinned in the wreckage.

Despite limited lighting, freezing conditions, and the ice and snow, the crews freed the trapped victim and transported all three to a hospital.

Fire Chief Rick Dawson said, “Each of these firefighters will tell you they were only doing their job.”

Each firefighter on Strader’s crew received the Distinguished Service Ribbon to wear on their dress uniforms.

The awards, which in recent years had been presented at a township trustees meeting, were presented at a dinner. Such a program has been held in the past and department leaders sought to revive it. Off-duty firefighters and spouses attended. State Rep. Cheryl Grossman of Grove City presented both Flowers and Strader with proclamations from the House of Representatives.

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