GALLIPOLIS — Gallipolis Fire Department chose its first woman Firefighter of the Year, Wednesday evening, during the annual department Christmas dinner and awards presentation.
“I feel honored but I think there are a lot more people more deserving of it than me,” said Gallipolis Firefighter Joy Elliott. “I think it’s family-oriented (the department). No matter what they (colleague firefighters) have got your back. You’re not alone. There’s always someone there to help you…It’s one big family.”
While also serving as the department’s first woman firefighter, Elliott serves as a probation officer with the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas and holds a commission with the Gallia Sheriff’s Office and Gallipolis Police Department, she said. She has been with the fire department for 13 years. She started a career in law enforcement in 1990. Elliott also serves as department treasurer. She has HAZMAT training as well as 36-hour basic firefighter training. She is married to GFD Chief Keith Elliott.
According to Keith, every year at a meeting the department holds a secret ballot and firefighters vote for someone to be the Firefighter of the Year. The award has been given out roughly for the last seven years.
“Normally what we do is when we cast our ballots at the meeting, I’ll collect those ballots and myself and the person who won the award last year go to my office and recount ballots and that person is sworn to secrecy until the dinner,” said Keith.
The chief said he actually had a fake certificate printed in order to keep the secret hidden from Joy until the night of the dinner.
“In choosing Firefighter of the Year, members of the department were charged with selecting one among them who demonstrated honesty, integrity, loyalty to the department, knowledge of the job, and how they apply that knowledge,” said Keith during the dinner before announcing the recipient. “To have been selected by your fellow firefighters, is a credit to you personally and professionally. It is a reflection of your work ethic, professionalism, and ability to maintain good working relations hips with your co-workers.”
Also receiving recognition during the dinner were 2018 Explorers Allorah O’Dell, Ethan Mays and Hunter Terry. For five years of meritorious service, Josh Staley and Jonathan VanMeter were recognized. For 15 years of meritorious service, Kevin Plantz was recognized.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2103.