Lt. Drew Murdock and firefighter Jamie Atkins agree that firefighting is in their blood -- and possibly their genes.
"In both our cases, it comes from the parents," said Atkins, who was recently elected to the Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue Board of Directors.
Murdock and Atkins were named the department's 2007-08 Firefighter and Volunteer of the Year, respectively, at the department's annual meeting.
"It is difficult," Assistant Chief and board Vice President Jim Champion said of the board's task choosing winners from among the firefighters nominated by department employees. "They stood out because they have done more than what is required of them."
Following his father and grandfather into firefighting, Murdock started volunteering for the department in 1985 when he was in high school. His grandfather was chief of the former Suburban Fire Department that operated three fire stations in South Augusta, and his father was former chief of Richmond County Fire Department.
"I volunteered five nights a week in high school," Murdock said, adding that he remembers his station captain waking him up to go to school.
Champion said the board decided to give Murdock the Firefighter of the Year award for his work to install the department's Computer-Assisted Dispatch system, including computers, global positioning systems, antennas and related wiring into all the fire trucks.
"He stayed up late making sure he got all these trucks finished," he said. "If it had not been for Drew putting in all that equipment, we'd have had to have it sent out and paid out a bunch of money."
Atkins, a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service at Savannah River Site, also saves the department money by volunteering three or four days a month. Because he is a qualified firefighter, Champion said, Atkins often fills in for full-time firefighters in case of sickness or vacations.
Atkins, who has been volunteering for the department for about three years, also is the only person qualified to teach classes on battling wildland fires for the department.
Like Murdock, Atkins followed his father in firefighting beginning as a volunteer at age 16 in North Carolina, where he also was a full-time firefighter, emergency medical technician and paramedic.
"When a fire call would come in, the phones in the firemen's houses would all just go to a steady ring," Atkins said, remembering being a young child during his father's firefighting career. "I'd hear that phone go off and I was waiting for him to jump in the car and go."
Atkins even sneaked to a training burn by hiding under a tarp in the bed of his father's truck.
The awards came as a surprise to both men.
"They called my name out," Atkins said. "I didn't know anything about it."
Murdock said he wasn't just surprised, but Chief Doug Cooper tricked him to get him there by telling him he'd be receiving an updated CPR pin during the meeting.
"I about hit the floor that night," Murdock said.
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