Burton Fire District honors awardees

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Photo above: Brittany Nicotri, left, was named the Burton Fire District’s Firefighter of the Year. She is shown here with Chief Harry Rountree, center, and District Officer of the Year David Grabenbauer. Photo provided.

Staff reports

The Burton Fire District held its annual awards banquet on Dec. 9.

In addition to looking back over a busy year in 2017, in which the district responded to over 250 more emergency calls than in 2016, both departmental and personal achievements were recognized.

Burton firefighters selected Brittany Nicotri as the district’s Firefighter of the Year. 

Nicotri started with Burton as a volunteer in 2016. When she was told by people she couldn’t be a firefighter because she was only a 5 foot tall female, she set out to prove otherwise. 

She started her career with Burton as Hurricane Matthew struck, and her fellow firefighters were in awe of her dedication and ability handle any task, often
refusing assistance. 

When Nicotri is not covered in soot from a fire, she is covered in grease from the vehicle and station maintenance tasks she takes on, saving taxpayers thousands annually. 

Burton Fire Chief Harry Rountree said, “She has made a large impact on our department in a very short time,” (no pun intended).

Burton firefighters selected David Grabenbauer as the district’s Officer of the Year. 

He is a Marine Corps veteran who started with Burton in 1996 and has progressed up the ranks to the position of shift commander, where he oversees the operation of the district’s five fire stations and personnel. 

Grabenbauer’s commitment to the district’s personnel is demonstrated in his mentoring younger firefighters and coordinating family events and activities for the district. 

Burton Fire Chief Harry Rountree recalled with pride watching Grabenbauer grow from a young man who played in the once popular local band Saucy Brown, into a strong leader, dedicated public servant, and a husband and father. 

“Whether a work problem or personal problem, the firefighters seek David out, and in return, he is willing to share his life’s experiences which have obviously been successful. So David is a large reason we are also successful,” said Rountree. 

New firefighter Daniel Mickel, a Marine Corps veteran and a Citadel graduate, who recently graduated from the South Carolina Fire Academy, was also recognized for receiving two academy awards: the Order of the Maltese Cross Award and the Chief Robert Frick Award. 

Mickel was selected by his classmates to receive the Maltese Cross Award for his honor, integrity and leadership throughout the eight-week fire academy program, and he received the Chief Frick Award for having the highest GPA in the class. 

The Burton Fire District celebrated 2017 and is now preparing for what will be a challenging new year as growth will certainly bring increases in emergencies. 

“It was an honor as the Burton Fire District chief to celebrate such a successful year as a department, and to recognize and thank our personnel and their families for all they do for our community,” ssaid Rountree. 

“But there is no rest for the compassionate and dedicated, so today we start to prepare for the future.

“Our goal is to ensure our citizens have a healthy and safe year; and in 2018, we’ll do it all over again.” 

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