Somervell County Fire Department honors firefighters at annual awards banquet

Melissa Holmes|@LissaCHolmes Staff Writer

GLEN ROSE - Throughout the year, the Somervell County Fire Department and EMS teams work tirelessly to keep everyone in the county safe in an emergency. On Dec. 8 they got a chance to relax for a night during their annual year-end awards banquet and Christmas party.

"We have such a great group of dedicated folks. It's nice to have an evening where we can all gather as a group with our families and fellowship," said Somervell County Fire Chief Mark Crawford of the evening's festivities. 

The evening not only provided them a chance to spend time with their families, it was a night of acknowledging the achievements of the department and the staff from the last year.

“The department has benefited from having a consistent and strong group of leaders. Most of them grew up here and have been serving their community since they were kids," Crawford stated.

Lt. Alan Steele was awarded ‘Firefighter of the Year.’ Steele’s leadership and dedication to the job earned him the special honor for the year.

‘Employee of the Year’ went to Megan Pankhurst. Pankhurst, a third generation firefighter in Glen Rose, started out as a volunteer and then went on to become the department’s first full-time paramedic. Since she grew up in the community, she knows most her patients personally and shows a passion for caring for others.

Captain Brad Isham received ‘Officer of the Year.’ He is one of three captains that coordinates operations for the department. Isham may run a tight ship to keep everything in order, but he also serves as a mentor for the newer guys.

TJ Bunt was voted ‘Rookie of the Year’ by his peers on the department. Bunt just recently became a part of the department’s paid staff. He is about to graduate from the fire academy and in Spring he will be starting paramedic school. 

Alan West was recognized for 20 years of service. West started with the department as a kid and over the years the job, department and fellow employees have a found a special place in his heart.

The department also recognized citizen Ryan Houston for his efforts in helping the department rescue a child from drowning in the river last summer. Houston, who was presented with the Lifesaving Samaritan award, said that it felt great to be receiving the honor and he just happened to be “at the right place at the right time.”

For Crawford the night was about putting the focus on his department and giving them the recognition for their hard work and training. Training, which has included sending team members to Texas A&M for additional training and certification in fighting wildland fires. Recently that training was put to the test with the wildland fire on Highway 67 in October.

Crawford couldn't be more pleased with the efforts of his whole crew.   

"Overall, I am so proud of what our department has become over the years,” Crawford added, “Our folks have worked hard to be prepared for not only the normal emergencies a fire department and ambulance service face, but also the unique ones to our community with the recreational activities and nuclear power plant. They put in a lot of hard work and dedication and I'm proud to be part of their team."