GREENFIELD — They visited the sick, cleaned homes for patients who left messes behind en route to the hospital and battled alongside their brother and sister firefighters to keep disaster in check.
After a trying and emotional year, members of the Greenfield Fire Territory paused recently to recognize the men and women of their department who showed their fellow residents that taking care of your neighbor is about more than putting out fires.
At a banquet celebrating the department’s successes over the last year, longtime members received pins denoting their many years of service, and the department’s leaders announced they’d now give a kind-hearted, dedicated and compassionate member of their ranks an award carrying the name of a fallen comrade.
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The newly established Scott Compton Memorial Virtue Award goes to a Greenfield firefighter who has a positive attitude, who is always willing to volunteer for any task and who has an ability to see the best in others — all qualities the department’s leaders saw in Compton, who died in November after a fire, Chief James Roberts said.
Compton suffered a heart attack hours after he left the scene of a fire that destroyed the four businesses housed in Greenfield’s Riley Park Plaza.
Compton was a 17-year veteran of the Greenfield fire department. He worked as a part-time firefighter and carried the rank of lieutenant. Firefighting was a second career for him, but he found his passion there, friends said. Prior to joining the fire service, he worked as an insurance estimator.
Because his death occurred within 48 hours of fighting a fire, Compton’s was considered a line-of-duty death — the first in the Greenfield Fire Territory’s history and the second in Hancock County in less than a year. Hundreds of firefighters poured into Greenfield a week after his death to attend his funeral.
In the months that passed, fire department leaders crafted the award carrying Compton’s name as a way to honor and remember their friend.
Greenfield firefighter David Wickard became the first recipient of the award during the recent banquet, accepting it from Compton’s fiancée, Anna Davis-Wickliff.
Wickard demonstrates many of the qualities and characteristics that made Compton a great firefighter and man, Roberts said. Wickard is reliable, responsible and always working to make Greenfield’s fire department the best it can be.
Dozens of other Greenfield firefighters were honored at the ceremony for their hard work and dedication to the community, for the times when they went above and beyond their call of duty.
Here’s a look at some of the other good deeds department leaders declared merit recognition.
First to the fire
As billowing black smoke poured from Mueller Auto Body in Greenfield and flames spread quickly to the adjacent businesses, a team of about 10 Greenfield firefighters rushed to the scene.
The quick work of the first crew of firefighters that arrived at Greenfield’s Riley Park Plaza on Nov. 10, where a three-alarm blaze destroyed four locally owned businesses, laid the foundation on which their fellow firefighters worked for more than seven hours that night. The success fire crews had was key to ensuring the fire didn’t spread to homes or other businesses near the plaza, the fire chief said.
A helping hand
Firefighters Bob James and Anthony Evans showed extra compassion to a local woman they met during a medical call last year.
The woman, who had recently broken her hip and had surgery, had fallen in her home and needed help getting up. While James and Evan were in her home, she confided in them that she was having trouble getting in and out of bed. The mattress, she said, was too high for brittle bones to climb into each night.
So, James and Evans dismantled the woman’s bedframe for her, and placed the boxspring on the floor where it would be more easily accessible. They also helped her clean up her home and start a load of laundry.
Firefighters Chris Myer and Aaron Paul, also on a medical call to help a woman who had fallen, noticed the Rice Krispies Treats she’d been making were scattered across her kitchen floor — culinary victims of the woman’s stumble.
After dropping the woman off at the hospital, Myer and Paul returned to the woman’s home to clean up the mess. They then ran to the grocery store, bought new Rice Krispies Treats, unpackaged them, placed them on a platter and delivered them to the hospital so that the woman could still attend her party.
Evans and James along with fellow firefighters Kellen Holt, Keith Gibbs, Gene Bryant, Nick Smith and Scott Hogan rescued a young man who was trapped inside his car after a crash in Greenfield at the end of last year.
The day after the accident, the group visited the man in the hospital, which brightened his spirits. They also pooled their money and purchased several gas cards for the man’s family, to make the trips back and forth to the Indianapolis hospital where he was recovering a bit easier.
Finding extra care
After being called to the same address three times in one day to help a senior citizen who was struggling to take care of herself after an injury, Hogan contacted several local assisted living facilities to find the woman a place to stay. It took several attempts and a series of calls, but Hogan found the woman a place where she would be properly taken care of.
These actions went above and beyond the usual patient care and warranted recognition, Roberts said.
Deputy Chief Jason Horning received the Fire Chief’s Award from Roberts for his hard work overseeing the remodel of the department Fire Station 22, located on New Road in Greenfield.
City officials announced in 2016 they planned to invest $3.3 million to remodel the department’s second station, which opened in 1991.
Roberts said he put Horning in charge of the project, knowing he was the best person to oversee the job.
Additional awards included:
Tyler Lesky, cadet of the year
Kellen Holt, volunteer/part-time firefighter of the year
Nick Smith, rookie firefighter of the year
R.J. Beaver, instructor of the year
Bob James and Gene Bryant, paramedics of the year
Scott Hogan, fire department officer of the year
Shawn May, firefighter of the year
Hancock Regional Hospital, community and life safety award
Long-serving members of the Greenfield Fire Territory were recently honored during the department’s annual banquet.
- Firefighter Brian Burkhart celebrated 35 years of service with the department; he is set to retire March 1.
- Firefighter Theresa Ebbert celebrated 20 years of service; she retired Jan. 30.
- Keith Gibbs and Jason Horning also celebrated 20 years of service.
Five firefighters marked 15 years of service at the banquet. They are:
- Corey Breese
- R.J. Beaver
- Dwight Haggard
- David Wickard
- Vinny Reynolds
Four marked 10 years of service. They are:
- Scott Hogan
- Scott Elliot
- Aaron Paul
- Kellen Holt
Greg Hodge marked five years of service.