FERRIS — Ferris Firefighter Jason Birdwell was named as the department’s Firefighter of the Year at its annual awards banquet held Dec. 15. Birdwell has worked with the department for the past two years since graduating from the fire academy.

Birdwell said going into the fire service seemed like a natural fit, because many of his family members such as his father, brother and cousins work as firefighters.

While working in Ferris he is one of only two paid firefighters at the department. This has provided him with a unique opportunity to gain valuable experience and knowledge by working in different roles. One day he might be working in a leadership as driver or a captain. Other days he might be working as a firefighter. Birdwell was selected as Firefighter of the Year through a secret ballot vote. After each member of the department voted Birdwell was selected as the recipient.

“I was actually surprised I got it. We really had some good guys in the running for it. I actually thought another gentleman was going to win and I was rooting for him,” Birdwell said. “When they said my name I didn’t expect that, but I appreciate it. It is an honor to be chosen by your co-workers.”

One of the notable moments from his time at the department was being deployed to fight wildfires in east Texas in September 2011. Firefighters from around the area formed a team that worked to combat fires for seven and half days.

Fire Chief Scott Mitchell said since Birdwell comes from a multi-generational fire service family he has a good sense of what the fire service is about.

“He is an outstanding employee and a real asset to the fire department. He works very well with the volunteer personnel and helps out the new guys and works well with the older guys that have experience,” Mitchell said. “I have been here a little over a year and I was still relatively new when I got here. What impresses me is that he has a skill level that goes far beyond his tenure in the fire service. He is a good hand and we are glad that he is here.”

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