Originally earning awards for education efforts and valor in August, Bartow County Fire Department Capt. Colleen Cochran and Cartersville Fire Department’s Mack King, Chad Hendrix and Joe Hill were recognized by Gov. Nathan Deal.
Set by law for the first Tuesday in February, Firefighters Recognition Day pays tribute to the firefighting community. Called to order by Georgia State Firefighters Association President Lanier Swafford Tuesday morning, Deal acknowledged the contributions made by fire service personnel across the state, and presented commendations to the award recipients of the Georgia State Firefighters Association, Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs and Fire Inspectors Association.
In August, the four local firefighters took home awards from the Georgia State Firefighters Association and Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs banquet.
Cochran, who retired in November after 23 years of service, was named Educator of the Year.
A veteran of BCFD, Cochran served as the department’s fire safety coordinator, coordinating and supervising all fire safety education programs for the county.
Cochran said in August the acclamation was one made more meaningful by the organizations responsible for choosing the winners.
“It was a true honor to me because there is a lot of work behind it,” she said.
According to the nomination, Cochran “dedicated much of her career to fire safety education,” working with the Georgia Firefighters Burn Foundation and helping secure grants to establish new programs in Bartow County.
Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap said Wednesday that, while the moment was bittersweet for the diminutive former captain, the award “illustrated how she has dedicated her life to the fire service.”
“For Colleen, working with her all these years, I can think of no one who has been more deserving of that award than her for all she has done through the years,” he said.
Along with Cochran’s award, the trio of Cartersville firefighters received the GSFA Valor Award for a call received in spring 2012.
On April 2, the three were dispatched to a call of an unresponsive female.
“The crew of Engine 3 quickly went into action with aggressive Basic Cardiac Life Support and AED,” the GSFA nomination read. “With the result of their action, the patient was revived and pulse was returned prior to the arrival of EMS.
“Valor was shown by this crew by quick action, response and treatment. While there are so many times where there may not be a positive outcome with circumstances such as these, the courage and determination by this crew under extreme, stressful circumstance has resulted in a citizen who is now alive, well and back in the arms of her family.”
The three represented more than just themselves Tuesday, Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter said.
“Firefighters never do what they do for recognition — they are there because of what I call committed compassion for others, so when someone is recognized, it is very special and humbling,” he said. “Because of all of my involvement in the fire service on a state and national level, I have had the privilege of being able to recognize firefighters for many heroic acts. When I had the opportunity to witness three of our own receive the prestigious valor award, to be honest, it was a little emotional. I knew they were not standing next to the governor just for themselves — they stood there representing all of their brother and sister firefighters back in Cartersville and across the state. Like I said, committed compassion.”