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Burning bright: 3-year volunteer named Decatur Firefighter of the Year

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Brandon Peyton got a late start on a dream career as a firefighter and paramedic – but he’s making up for lost time.

And he’s thriving while doing so.

Top Firefighter

TOP FIREFIGHTER – The Decatur Fire Department named Brandon Peyton Firefighter of the Year at an awards banquet Saturday. Peyton has served with the department for three years. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Six years ago, the 31-year-old joined the East Wise Volunteer Fire Department. After he, his wife, Amie, and their two daughters, Chelsea and Hannah, moved into the city limits, he joined the Decatur brigade.

For three years, Peyton has suited up as a volunteer and responded to a plethora of calls – medical emergencies, car accidents and structure fires.

Even though he serves in an unpaid capacity, Peyton has continuously undergone training to increase his certification level.

“I love it,” he said. “I like the fact that we get to help people when they need it. That’s what draws me to this job.”

His devotion and passion for helping others were recognized Saturday when the Decatur Fire Department named him Firefighter of the Year at its annual awards banquet.

“I was shocked,” he said. “I don’t do it for any kind of recognition. I do it because I love it. If I could be a career volunteer, I’d be happy just doing that.”

But with a family to provide for, the Decatur native knows an unpaid career is not plausible.

For that same reason, Peyton has opted for a less conventional route to his goal.

Peyton is an intermediate emergency medical technician (EMT) – which he described as a “step above basic EMT, and a step below paramedic.” He will begin paramedic school this year and obtain fire training through the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association of Texas instead of through a fire academy.

“I’ll do all of their training and then petition the licensing entity to take my test,” he said. “With my family, it’s easier this way. Otherwise, I’d have to take time off work, or not work. I didn’t think it would be responsible.”

Volunteering also expands his experience base.

“I’d love to make a career out of it,” he said. “If I could get paid to do it, I’d have the best job in the world.”

Peyton was nominated for Firefighter of the Year by his colleagues, who he describes as “brothers who will do anything for you.”

His chief endorses the department’s selection.

“He has a job and a family, and he takes care of those first,” said Decatur Fire Chief Mike Richardson. “But he’s always here when he’s supposed to be. Not only does he work his regular shift. When we get in a bind and he hears about it, he’s there to help. Brandon has done outstanding. I am very proud of him.”

NIGHT OF HONORS

Other awards presented at the 7th Annual Decatur Fire Department Honors Banquet Saturday night at the Decatur Civic Center included:

  • James Carr, EMS Responder of the Year,
  • Brady Murphree, Rookie of the Year;
  • Capt. Cliff Oates, Officer of the Year; and
  • Captain Nate Mara, PHD award for excellence in customer service.

Members of the department – paid and volunteers – logged 23,275 hours of training and earned 55 certifications. Thirty-seven members received one certification or more.

Those honored for the number of volunteer hours worked included:

  • Ryan Davis, 1,189;
  • Dusty Baker, 951;
  • Lt. Rick King, 912.

“Our volunteers are second to none,” Decatur Chief Mike Richardson said. “They are well-trained, the cream of the crop.”

Length of service awards were given to:

  • Administrative Captain Kyle Stephens, 25 years;
  • Johnny Wall, 20 years;
  • Armando Fernandez, 5 years;
  • Lt. Jordan Hodges, 5 years;
  • Lt. Jordan Sereika, 5 years.

Speaker for the evening was San Marcos Fire Chief Les Stephens. Bridgeport firefighters, led by Chief Terry Long, covered the city and the Decatur fire district during the banquet.

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