Salter earns top firefighter honors
By By LYDIA GRIMES – Feature Writer
A lot of young men don't know what profession they want to go into when they finish high school.
Jeffery Salter thought he wanted to be a part of the criminal justice system when he graduated from W.S. Neal High School in 1993. He had no idea that he would someday become a fireman and win the Escambia County Career Firefighter of the Year Award. But that is just what he accomplished this past year for his service with the Brewton Fire Department.
Salter was born in Brewton, the son of Jerry and JoAnn Salter, and grew up here with his two brothers. After graduating from high school, he entered college at Jefferson Davis Community College and completed two years there. He then went to Whiting Field and entered an extension of Troy State University, majoring in the field of criminal justice. After a year and a half, he decided he wanted to work full-time at Huckleberry Ridge where he had been working as a part-time employee.
During this time he was friends with the son of Guy Langham, who happened to be the fire chief in East Brewton. The two boys spent quite a bit of time at the fire station and were even allowed to go to some fires. The boys thought it was a great treat to be able to stay at the fire department. Like most children, they thought it was very exciting.
Salter got more and more interested in firefighting and with the encouragement of Langham, he became a volunteer firefighter with the Brewton Fire Department.
There are several differences in volunteer and career firefighters, with the main one being that the volunteers don't get any pay for what they do. Both Brewton and East Brewton Fire Departments have volunteers working with them which adds to the number of available men wduring times of an emergency.
While he was working as a volunteer, Salter realized that he enjoyed working at the fire department. After about a year, a full-time position came open and he jumped at the chance to become a career firefighter. He attended fire school in Dothan for 16 weeks where he received his Firefighter I certification, EMT license, Haz-Mat training and First Responder certification. This enabled him to become a paid employee of the fire department.
Since his initial training, Salter has returned to school several times. He has attended Alabama Fire College at Tuscaloosa, where he has been certified to teach the things that he has learned. This enables him to teach others in the department and the volunteers in the county. He is able to teach CPR (Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation) and AED (Automatic External Defibrillation). He has taught CPR to all city employees, some doctors and the students in the nursing program at Jefferson Davis Community College. He does have to be re-certified every two years as things are always changing.
Salter and his fellow firefighters work 12 hour shifts and they have a lot of time in between fires and other emergencies. However, it is not spent foolishly. Even though they are not always going to fires, they still have their many duties around the station. There are 10 career firefighters and 20 volunteers in the Brewton Fire Department and they all have their duties.
For anyone who happens to drive by the fire department around 8 a.m. they sometimes get a big surprise as that is the time the men usually start the trucks and turn on the sirens as a test. It is a little unnerving to be driving along, minding your own business when suddenly you hear the sirens and think that they may be ready to pull out and go to a fire.
Every year fire stations within the county nominate someone from their department for the title of Firefighter of the Year. Salter's fellow firefighters nominated him for that honor this past year. Judges from outside the county were then given the job of selecting the winner. The same thing applies to the volunteer firefighters and they also have a winner. This year the volunteer Firefighter of the Year was NAS Whiting Field Fire Captain Huey Johnson. The two winners were announced the night of the annual banquet held to honor all firemen, both career and volunteer.
Salter is not always at the fire station. He likes to deer hunt and fish. He also runs his own lawn care business when he is not on duty and he says that it keeps him very busy in the summertime. He has plans to marry Gina Mosley in September.
Citizens of Brewton, and other communities as well, can be proud of the men who put their lives on the line, in many situations, in order to protect the public. They deserve all the recognition they get.