Citizens' Hose Company No. 1, of Smyrna, held their annual Officer Installation and Awards Ceremony on Jan. 7. Along with naming the officers for 2013, the evening also included awarding firefighters for their efforts for the past year.

One of the big awards of the night was Firefighter of the Year, which is given to a firefighter for their outstanding service and dedication to the fire company for that year. The 2012 Firefighter of the Year award was given to Lt. David Hufford Jr.

Hufford, 24, joined the fire company in November of 2005. He previously won the School Probational Fireman of the Year award in 2007.

Hufford recently took a few minutes to talk with the Sun-Times about what he enjoys about being a member and why he joined.

Q Why did you join Citizens' Hose Company?

A I always wanted to be a firefighter since I was little. My dad, who is a life member of the company, used to take me up there every once in a while when I was a kid to look at/play on the trucks. So that started it for me. Plus, it looked fun and cool to do.

Q What do you enjoy about being a member?

A Probably the friends I have made along the way from my own company and other companies throughout the state that I probably wouldn't of met if I never joined. I also like showing the newer members "Probies" how stuff works around the station, how to use the tools that we carry on the trucks, from the saws to the Hurst tool, etc. I like helping them prepare for their truck test, which they need to take to be able to ride a piece of apparatus by reviewing the trucks and equipment with them. And of course riding the big, red shiny fire trucks too.

Q What does it take to be a firefighter?

A It takes time to go to training to learn the basics of firefighting from cutting trapped people out of vehicles to putting fires out. But mainly it takes the willingness to give your time up for free to help others when they need it. Even if that means getting out of bed at 2 a.m. to drive up to the fire house and get on a truck for an alarm, which you don't know if you are just riding around the block or if you going to be at a fire for 5 hours, then still have to go to work with zero sleep.

Q How do you feel about winning the award?

A I was surprised about winning it.

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