Radford firefighter earns 2 department awards
James “Jim” Henegar, a volunteer with the Radford Fire Department, was presented with two major awards at the department’s Annual Christmas Dinner on Friday.
He was named “Firefighter of the Year” and received one of two monetary awards introduced this year to honor longtime city and fire department supporter Benny Ridpath.
Henegar, an engineer with the Virginia Department of Transportation, serves as the department’s chaplain, giving of his time to assist in local emergency-related activities and other special needs of the volunteers, professional staff and affected citizens.
His wife, Kerrie, was also applauded for her work with Henegar in providing meals and other help when needed throughout the community.
Henegar, who is not an ordained clergyman, believes strongly in his adopted mission to help, as needed, with spiritual needs of the department, and is regularly seen doing the invocation at city council meetings.
The family of the late insurance executive Benny Ridpath, which includes Radford City Manager David Ridpath, introduced the Benny Ridpath Memorial Awards this year. The department’s 1934 Dodge Fire Engine was donated by Ridpath to assure it had a permanent home.
“We are going to miss Benny,” the chief said. “He was a great part of the city of Radford and this department.”
In addition to the volunteer gift to Henegar, the second Ridpath award went to career firefighter Brandon Stanley.
Chief Lee Simpkins said the young staffer had taken on the old fire truck as a personal responsibility, helping to maintain it and to drive it in area parades and other venues.
Firefighter John Butler and volunteer Steve Amos received the John and Irene Price Memorial Awards for 2012, presented for the ninth year by their daughter Renie Price.
“I am proud to support this department, and my father would be really proud,” Renie Price said.
John Price was a longtime member of the fire department.
In the past year, there were 955 calls for help to the Radford Fire Department, 111 fires, 297 rental and fire inspections and other services provided by the department. Interestingly, the department handled an apartment-complex fire earlier in the day, prior to preparing for the Christmas dinner.
“We have a dedicated fire department of volunteers and career staff. And when things happen in Radford, our folks show up,” Simpkins said.
He told the gathering of staff, families, special guests and city officials that it would not be possible for the firefighters to do what they do without the support and understanding of their family.
He also singled out two of the 10 full-time members, Rodney Heywood and Butch Reed, for being there whenever he has needed their leadership.
“Our career employees do everything that needs to be done, year-round,” he said.
– Submitted by Bob Thomas, Radford Fire Department volunteer
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