Rotary names ‘Firefighter of Year’

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 1, 2016

The Bogalusa Rotary Club named Brandon Applewhite as its “Firefighter of the Year,” during Tuesday’s club meeting.

Bogalusa Fire Chief Richard Moody said that he always enjoys the annual recognition of one of his department’s employees.

“I’m always happy to do this,” he said. “It’s hard to nominate just one, because we’re a group and a team and we do everything together.”

Moody said that Applewhite once showed his bravery and public service during a dangerous house fire. The homeowner tried to go back into the home to rescue some pets, but the smoke was too thick and he fell unconsciousness in the burning hallway.

Moody said that Applewhite was able to rescue the homeowner, as well as help save several of the pets.

“He’s always excelled at everything he does,” Moody said, of Applewhite.

Applewhite thanked some of the members of his family, who attended Tuesday’s award ceremony during the club meeting. Club president Merlin Duke presented Applewhite with an award plaque.

“I actually never grew up dreaming to be a firefighter,” Applewhite said. “I wanted to be a doctor. But now, I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

Applewhite also showed his humility upon receiving the award.

“This award’s not just for me,” he said. “It’s bigger than one person. The guys on my shift all work together.”

Moody said he was especially proud of the effort that the Bogalusa Fire Department showed in the aftermath of the March 11 flood. He said that firefighters began working as early as 2 a.m. that morning helping to rescue people in the floodwaters.

He noted that Applewhite and others used their boats to reach stranded citizens. Moody said that they saved 13 people from one affected neighborhood, just as an example.

“They’re a very dedicated team, and they showed it during the flood,” Moody said.