Meeks, who currently serves as the Curry Fire Rescue’s EMS captain and as a chaplain for the WCFFA, was nominated for the award by a fellow member of his department.
The WCFFA nominating committee accepts nominations for the award from all WCFFA members.
Meeks was presented with an engraved plaque and special firefighter’s helmet to take home during a reception that was held following the meeting. The Association also added Meek’s name to a larger engraved plaque, which remains at the Walker County Fire Fighters Association building located on North Airport Road in Jasper.
The larger plaque lists the previous recipients of this prestigious award, which is given each year in memory of another volunteer firefighter, Raymond Gilder, who served Walker County well for a number of years.
Meeks, who has been a member of Curry Fire Rescue since 2007 and served in several different officer positions within the department, was nominated for the award by Rebecca Atkins, who serves as secretary for Curry Fire Rescue and the WCFFA.
“Being a firefighter is not only about putting on turnout gear, driving the fire trucks and spraying water on the fire,” Atkins wrote in her nomination letter to committee. “It also involves many hours of training on how to handle all situations from structure fires to extricating patients from mangled wreckage, and Richard spends many hours training and improving his skills.”
Atkins said Meeks also sets up monthly training classes for members of Curry Fire Rescue as well as other Fire Departments that want to participate.
“He was also part of the CERT program which involved young people being trained to assist fire departments in disaster situations,” Atkins said. “Richard is also very active in all Fire Prevention Programs at Curry Elementary, Curry Middle and Curry High schools.”
Meeks and his father run a family business in Curry. Even though sometimes it means hours away from their business, Atkins said Meeks responds to as many of the emergency calls that he can.
“I myself have responded with him on many of these calls and some of them were very hard to deal with,” Atkins said. “But Richard handles each call with respect and compassion.”
Atkins said Firefighter of the Year should not just be about being recognized for one heroic deed, but for the things done through out the years.
“Richard has worked very hard to make the Curry Community and surrounding communities a safer place to live,” Atkins said. “So it was with great honor and respect that I submitted Richard’s name as a nominee for the Raymond Gilder Kelley Memorial Firefighter of The Year Award.”