Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department’s 2013 Firefighter of the Year, announced during an awards banquet Saturday, says the organization provides an invaluable service to the community.
Jacob Johnson, of the North Suffolk watermen family and a harbor pilot in his day job, received the award for the second time, after previously being named to the honor in 2010.
“For the most part, all the members are of the community, so they have a direct interest in helping the community,” Johnson said.
“I just try to do the best job I can. I’m very fortunate that my work schedule provides me a large amount of time to put toward the department.”
Johnson, who was also named a top responder, with Jerry Saunders as well as Chris Bailey, joined the department six years ago.
He said he knew a lot of volunteers with the department when he was growing up, and joining them “was something I had wanted to do for a while.”
School, work and other things prevented the move for a while, though. But then he moved down the road a half-mile from the station, and his work schedule allowed it.
Living close by makes it a lot easier when he gets a call in the middle of the night, according to Johnson.
The volunteer said the award was a nice honor to receive, especially given that it was decided via a vote by the entire membership. “It was nice to be recognized and for everybody to put that honor on me,” he said.
Even though it’s an individual award, Johnson said, “it takes a lot of people to make the department work, from the chief and the leadership right on down to the members.”
As well as the community service aspect, volunteering with the department is enjoyable, Johnson said.
“There have certainly been a lot of good times,” he said, “and I’ve made a lot of good friends that I wouldn’t have made otherwise.
“The biggest reward you get is being involved with such a well-respected organization; being a part of that has probably been the highlight of it all.”
Johnson said he has also learned a lot of new skills with the department. “It’s very rewarding to know that you are helping somebody and giving a little bit back,” he said.