For some, the ceremony held September 11 by the Asheville Fire Department was recognition of achievement and the effort they have given to the department and
community. For others it was the beginning of a new career and life as a firefighter. But for each person at the ceremony, the day was a reminder and celebration of the dedication it takes to be part of the AFD.
“Thank you so much. We are proud of what you have achieved,” said Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy speaking to the firefighters and their friends and families gathered at the Sherrill Center on the UNC Asheville Campus. “You represent the best and the brightest.”
The Asheville Fire Department recognition program observed the advancement or promotion of 27 firefighters and the hiring of 26 new recruits. AFD Chief Scott Burnette said the department’s outreach efforts through programs like the department’s Explorer Post and In Real Life program not only brought in a large field of new applicants, but also allowed the department to increase the numbers of minority hires over the last year.
In the past year, 16 firefighters advanced to the role of Senior Firefighter, and four were advanced to Captain. Seven firefighters received promotions, including 14-year veteran Joy Ponder, who notably achieved the status of the AFD’s first female Battalion Chief.
Ponder was also the 2012 recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women of Influence award, that organization’s recognition of women who are role models in the community. The 2011 recipient of the TWIN award was AFD firefighter and Public Information Officer Kelley Klope.
“That honorees have been women in the Asheville Fire Department for two years in a row, we think is pretty significant,” said Burnette.
The AFD award ceremony is held in tandem with its annual remembrance of the September 11 attacks and the firefighters who gave their lives to save others, as well as a time to honor those from the Asheville Fire Department who lost their lives in the line of duty.
“We honor the lives lost that day by continuing to improve and advance, never forgetting our mission to save lives and to minimize suffering,” Burnette said. “We are here today a stronger nation and a stronger fire service and we will always be grateful for those who gave their lives to save others.”
Below are the AFD firefighters who received promotions and advancements:
David House (Active Military Duty)
DEPUTY FIRE MARSHAL
New hires to the AFD are: