The Asheville Fire Department promotes firefighters throughout the year, but saves the recognition and pinning ceremony for a somber and notable day for firefighters: September 11.
This year’s ceremony, held at UNC Asheville’s Sherrill Center, observed the promotions or advancements of 49 firefighters as well as the recognition of those instances in which firefighters had saved lives in emergency situations.
Of note was the award of the Medal of Valor to Engineer Zach Wetmore in recognition of a June 12 incident in which he and a civilian pulled a woman from her burning home on Sand Hill Road. Wetmore was off duty when he noticed flames coming from the home. He and a neighbor found the owner and pulled her from the house.
The Medal of Valor is second-highest award firefighters can receive.
Though the AFD is most visible in fire scenarios, the ceremony also noted actions of Asheville firefighters who saved lives in situations like cardiac arrest and floods and who assisted in childbirth.
“Today, we are honoring the men and women who continue to serve and protect our community through their commitment to the Asheville Fire Department,” said Asheville Mayor Esther Manheimer speaking at the event. “Most of us who do not work in the fire service can’t even imagine the level of trust and support that these men and women must have for one another. I am proud to say that our Fire Department is recognized as one of the premier fire and rescue departments in North Carolina. The dedication to our community shows in the diligent commitment to improve the quality of service provided and the enhancement of safety for you, the firefighters who protect us.”
The following firefighters were recognized for retirement, promotion or advancement:
Recognition of Retirees:
Carlton Denning, Division Chief
Mike McCoy, Captain
TJ Swafford, Captain
Rick Emory, Captain
Mike Hartsell, Captain
Deputy Fire Marshal:
Assistant Fire Marshal: