Stratford, WI (OnFocus) The Stratford Area Fire Department gave out its Firefighter and EMT of the Year awards this March to two worthy individuals.
Awards were based on nomination forms that could be filled out any time during the last year. Laurel Carey received EMT of the Year, with Kevin Spaeth earning Firefighter of the Year.
Spaeth, about two years with the department, was nominated based on his performance during a structure fire last spring.
“He was one of the first at the station. He ran the pumper for us over to the scene, parked it in the perfect spot, and ran the truck like a veteran, like guys we’ve had on the department for 20 years,” said Fire Chief Tim Carey. “In his short time with the department, he’s been willing to help with extra activities, building maintenance…Anytime we need anything, Kevin steps up to the plate and takes it on.”
“He never ran an engine on a call before.” said Derek Spindler, firefighter. “He drove to his call knowing it was his brother’s place or just down the road from there. He parked in the most perfect spot. I couldn’t tell anything different from a veteran running the engine compared to him.”
“I’m extremely honored,” said Spaeth. “Quite honestly, anyone on the department could have received this award. The fact that I have has more to do with the team than it does with me. There are no egos here.
“So many people have gone out of their way to help and teach me the skills needed. You don’t see that in most professions.”
Laurel Carey, in her 19th year at the department, won the EMT award for the first time. As a night worker, she covers the day shift.
“She also helps out a lot around the department. She’s our special events coordinator and plans our banquet,” said Carey, who is Laurel’s husband.
A final award, First Responder of the Year, Carey decided to give to the entire department. Currently there are two first responders with an additional six currently attending classes.
“We had a record number of calls this year and it was my first year as chief, and I felt everyone deserved some recognition,” he said.
In 2018 the department responded to 67 fire & rescue calls, well above the more typical 40-50, a number which doesn’t include ambulance. So far in 2019, it has responded to 13 calls.
Stratford Area Fire is a Paid on Call volunteer department and roles vary with every incident. “You never know who is available for each call, so our officers do a tremendous job of making sure we are cross-trained in all aspects of Fire and Rescue. Some days I will be Pump Operator on the fire engine, others I will be exterior hose line, interior attack, or on the backup team,” said Spaeth. “On accident scenes I can be extrication, or directing traffic.”
Spaeth enjoys the variety of the roles and most enjoys being part of the Stratford team.
“The Department has introduced me to an incredible group of men and women. I can’t imagine being around a more selfless and caring group of people. They truly personify the We over Me Attitude,” he said. “It’s not a job to the men and women on the department. It’s helping a neighbor when they need it.”
This attitude isn’t limited to just the fire department, but the whole community who continually help out, whether that’s providing fresh baked cookies and coffee, to caring for cattle saved from a barn fire.
“I couldn’t be more proud to live in the Village of Stratford,” said Spaeth.