Published 7:01 pm Wednesday, May 23, 2007
By By LYDIA GRIMES – features writer
Phillip Collins loves his community and shows it with volunteering his time, money and efforts with the Appleton Volunteer Fire Department. That love was recently returned as the announcement was made naming him as Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.
Collins, who is a volunteer firefighter, and assistant fire chief with Appleton Volunteer Fire Department, received this prestigious award at the recent banquet held in Flomaton. In fact, the Female Firefighter of the Year, Anna Barlow, is also with the Appleton VFD.
Collins is one of those who decided to help his community and joined the fire department in 2005. He took “the 160 course,” which means he took 160 hours of training, learning on the job. After he finished that training he started taking EMT classes through the Alabama Fire College. Ronnie Thompson, a firefighter with Brewton Fire Department, was the instructor. There were 15 in the class from the fire departments around the county.
Each department in the country can enter anyone and usually the fire chief of the department writes a recommendation naming all the fires the entrant has attended and the different classes he/she has attended.
Collins decided to go on and take the EMT courses. He can work on an ambulance and give oxygen, but he can't give medicine and injections.
Because volunteer fire departments depend on grants, gifts and other contributions, they are always trying to think up new ways to obtain money for their department.
Collins was born in Monroeville but moved to Brewton when he was about 10 years old because of his father's job. He has one brother and one sister. He attended school in the Brewton city school system and graduated from T.R. Miller High School in 1981. He was the outdoor type and athletic, playing high school football. After he graduated from high school he attended Bishop State Community College in Mobile. He received his degree in industrial electrical in 1985. He began working with in the construction field and traveled all over the states. He finally settled in Mobile in 1990, where he was married and had a son, Blake. He was divorced in 1999 and moved with his son back to Brewton. He went to work with Weyerhaeuser at Castleberry in 2000 and remarried to Becky Cain. He lives in Appleton with Becky, Blake, and Becky's son, B.J. Madden. Both boys are 17 years old and Becky works at NDI.
Collins said he likes to fish at L-Pond and in Murder Creek and the Conecuh River. He is a scuba diver and enjoys diving in the rivers to search for shark's teeth, arrowheads, and other fossils.
Whenever Collins gets a chance, he uses every opportunity to get in a plug for the volunteers at the fire department.
Volunteering is a way of life for Collins and he loves every minute of his work.