Volunteer Fire Association honors firefighter and EMT of the year

Published 3:42 pm Monday, April 4, 2022

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

The Chilton County Volunteer Firefighters Association recognized two outstanding volunteers on April 2.

Ollie Clyde Jones was honored as the 2021 Firefighter of the Year, and Galen Smitherman was named the 2021 EMT of the year.

(The awards are for the previous year because they had traditionally been presented in December.)

“With all the hours I have put in with the fire department and the rescue department, I am very, very much honored to receive this,” Jones said. “… There are so many members here that work day and night late hours and hard labor, and yet you donate your time, you give your time to the fire department. We appreciate it. We don’t want to take it for granted.”

Jones received his award from Enterprise Volunteer Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Headley.

“There are a lot of things that he has done in this county that he is proud of,” Headley said. For Jones, serving God and his church at Zion Ridge Church of God come first.

He is also dedicated to serving the community.

He was a founding member of Enterprise Volunteer Fire Department.

“He has dedicated 45 years of service to this fire department and this community,” Headley said. “In that time, he has served as fireman, as training officer and now as assistant chief. He is also our chaplain.”

In addition, Jones has been a member of the Sheriff’s Reserve, the Chilton Rescue Squad, ambulance service driver and Chilton County Hazmat team over the years.

EMT of the year Smitherman is a volunteer with the Cedar Grove Fire Department as well as the Clanton Fire Department and works full-time for the Pelham Fire Department.

Smitherman said he was “very appreciative” of the experience he had gained through volunteering and was thankful for be recognized.

He said even as a young child, he would hang around the fire station with family members.

“He has accomplished a lot for being his age,” Association President Butch Billingsley said.

Smitherman became an EMT for Montevallo after high school. Later, he was a dispatcher for Chilton County e911. Billingsley said he was good at his job, and he knew exactly who to call in each situation.

“He used a lot of common sense with the education that he has and is still getting,” Billingsley said.

Smitherman has now completed his Firefighter II certification and paramedic training.

He has also served on the fire association board.

“It is wonderful to see a young person at that age to take this as seriously as he does,” Billingsley said. “You have to want to do it and to give your heart in it, and that’s the way he is.”

Also during the event, Billingsley spoke of the dedication of all of the volunteers in the fire departments to continue to serve the community despite the added concerns and risks associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

He also thanked all of the spouses and children of those that volunteer.

“Thank you for sharing your family member with us,” Billingsley said.