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Firefighters hailed for 50 years of dedicated service

South Boston NewsSouth Boston NewsSouth Boston News
Barry Anderson (top photo, center) and Steve Phillips (middle photo, center) were honored this week by the South Boston Fire Department for 50 years of service. In both photos the honorees are flanked by SBFD Lt. J.B. Walker and Deputy Chief Dwight Spangler. In the bottom photo, Evan Irby is presented the Chief's Award by Chief Phillips. Irby also received the First Responder Award given by the SBFD.
SoVaNow.com / February 21, 2021
Two firefighters were honored for giving a half century of service to the South Boston Fire Department and other members of the fire company received awards for exemplary performance as the SBFD — after a delay due to the coronavirus — honored their own.

The awards presentation was held Tuesday night at the Fire Support Center in South Boston after the department was forced to cancel its annual banquet in December. Department leaders recognized the SBFD Firefighter of the Year, the winner of the Chief’s Award and First Responder of the Year award, with the highlight being the presentation of 50 Year Service Awards to two department stalwarts.

Deputy Chief Dwight Spangler, noting he has only had the honor of giving out the 50 Year Service Award once before, presented the commemorative pins to Chief Steve Phillips and Safety Officer Barry Anderson.

The SBFD board, recognizing that 50 years is a long time to devote to any cause, agreed the award recipients deserved something more — thus choosing gifts Phillips and Anderson could hold onto and pass down over the years. Both men received plaques, Thin Red Line Citizen watches, and engraved plates embossed with their name and badge serial number.

“We wish we could have done a whole lot more with a big party, but these gifts are a small token showing how much we appreciated everything you do for the company,” said SBFD Lt. J.B. Walker.

Anderson joined the fire company in January 1971 as a junior fireman and has held many different offices through volunteering over the years.

“Anderson has been on the administrative side several years, he’s been a good steward of our money, and tried to make good decisions for us,” said Spangler.

“There’s been a whole lot of changes in 50 years, I can tell you that,” said Anderson of his decades with the fire company.

Phillips joined the fire department a few months later in August 1971 as a junior firefighter. He went through the ranks holding several different positions — lieutenant, captain, deputy, and now fire department chief.

“He is probably our most famous committee chairman for Bingo because he really drove hard selling the tickets,” said Spangler.

“I just want everyone to know I’m really not that old,” joked Phillips, adding “I joined the fire department when I was two years old.”

A standing ovation followed to congratulate Phillips and Anderson for their longtime service awards.

Additional honors were presented to firefighters whose hard work and dedication stood out in 2020.

In the past, the Chief’s Award has been given in memory or in honor of a former firefighter, but this year that is not the case.

“We are doing things different this year,” said Phillips, adding it is “in no way to be disrespectful.”

Phillips announced Evan Irby is the recipient of the 2020 Chief’s Award. Irby responded to 99 fire calls, 46 motor crashes and fielded numerous EMS calls.

“I’m extremely exciting to give this award to a young person in today’s world who is interested in fire and EMS service, and helping the community,” said Phillips.

In addition to receiving the Chief’s Award, Irby was presented with the EMS First Responder Award by Captain Ray Conner.

“He’s taking over,” cheered one firefighter as they applauded Irby for his awards.

Conner announced Lt. J.B. Walker is the 2020 Firefighter of the Year. In addition to responding fire and EMS calls, “there is so much work to be done at the fire station like cooking and raising funds. Every bit helps,” said Conner, adding Walker “has done so much for us.”

Spangler announced service awards for those who’ve been with the SBFD for many years. Two firefighters recognized with15 year service awards were Andrew Richardson and Les Powell IV. Powell was unable to attend the ceremony.

“Our numbers have not been as large as they have been in the past, but I’m very proud of their dedication,” said Spangler.



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