Each year one dedicated firefighter is honored by the Healdsburg Fire Department as the Reserve Firefighter of the Year. This year, Healdsburg native, Eric Smith, 21, was awarded the honor.
Smith started training for his career at an early age, joining the fire explorers program while still in high school and began working his way up to the recruit-training program in Healdsburg before finally being hired as a reserve.
“Reserve fire personnel play a critical role supporting the fire departments mission in providing the highest level of service to the city of Healdsburg and responding to all calls that require more than one engine, handling “second calls in district” when the on-duty staff are committed to another incident or providing mutual aid to our neighboring departments, and providing the staffing to respond on Strike Teams,” said Healdsburg Fire Chief Steve Adams.
“Between these response activities and training requirements, our Reserve Firefighters dedicate over 15,000 hours a year. To recognize these contributions, the fire department selects an individual as Firefighter of the Year who demonstrates an outstanding commitment to the city for their enthusiasm, response to incidents, drill attendance and job performance,” he said.
Now Smith works part-time at the Healdsburg Fire Department, hoping to get hired on full-time while enrolling himself in programs such as the CPR Instructor Program and working as an intern learning fire investigation. He is also in the process of applying to work for a few seasons with CAL FIRE.
“For 2012, this honor was given to Reserve Firefighter Eric Smith; among the achievements completed by Eric during the year include; responding to 476 calls, participated in over 300 hours of Strike Team response battling wildland fires all over California, participated in over 250 training hours and dedicated over 3,000 hours to the fire department,” Adams said.
The inspiration to join the department came from Smith’s stepfather, Steve Babb, a former fire captain for Healdsburg Fire. As a young man he knew he wanted to get involved in the department and do something to give back to the community, he said.
This past summer, Smith said one of the biggest accomplishments was when he worked for 16 days on the large wild fires in Northern California.
Being named firefighter of the year wasn’t the first recognition for Smith, in 2011 he was named Recruit Firefighter of the Year and in 2009 he was honored as the fire explorer of the year.
“For the 2012 award, I did like 3,000 hours here at the fire department and ran like 467 calls,” Smith said. “I love helping my community in their time in need, it is the community I grew up in.”
“I just love the job and love being here, I am just happy to be recognized for my work,” he said. “I work with a great group of guys and I am learning a lot.”
Smith was also recognized by the Healdsburg City Council for his award at its March 4 meeting.