Latecomer Lance is Firefighter of the Year
Lance Haynes got a baptism of fire as he helped battle one of the largest blazes in recent times only months into the job.
Now he is the 2018 Firefighter of the Year, only two years after he and colleagues tackled the major fire that destroyed a building on Front Street in 2016, although firefighters managed to stop the blaze from spreading to nearby buildings.
Mr Haynes said: “It is an honour. Being recognised by my peers is something I take seriously. It’s good that people recognise the hard work that I do daily.” He added: “It’s a very humbling experience as well.”
Mr Haynes was speaking after he was presented with the annual William Glasford award, named after a former firefighter who died in 1997, at a ceremony last week.
The winner is chosen based on performance, attendance and the standard maintained on the job over the year.
Mr Haynes, who joined the service in August 2015, admitted the honour came as a surprise.
He said: “It was not my intention to be awarded. I believe in doing my best.”
His first building fire was the Onion Jack’s blaze, which spread throughout the building and caused smoke and heat damage to nearby premises.
He and his crew worked for hours to contain the fire.
Mr Haynes said: “That really opened my eyes as to how serious fires can actually be.”
The 40-year-old from Pembroke added: “It does not matter if it is washing the truck or cleaning the station, I just give my all.”
He said the award was a spur to keep doing his best.
Mr Haynes added: “I will use this to motivate me to continue to work hard.”
Mr Haynes, who works in the airport operation department, said a good firefighter had a willingness to learn and knew the job.
The father of two added that his appetite for learning helped him to do his job effectively, even though he only has three years of service.
Mr Haynes said: “You need to know your job. You need to take time to learn your job and make sure you are effective at what you do.
“Each day you come to work, you try to learn something new whether you have 20 years in the service or two years.”
His thirst for knowledge has helped him complete several courses, including the promotion exams for sergeant.
However, Mr Haynes said he did not study for promotion, but to help him be a better firefighter.
He added: “I grab whatever knowledge is there. If my services are needed further on, then I am available.”
Mr Haynes — a relative latecomer to the fire service — said community spirit was also vital to the job.
He had worked as part of the student management team at CedarBridge Academy in Prospect for years, but a desire to help the public motivated him to join the fire service. Starting a family also helped spark the decision.
He said: “I wanted to set a tone for my children.”
The driver and equipment operator also remembered his first emergency call.
He said: “I was always anticipating that first call. Just seeing that on the pager I was in shock.”
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