Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District has awards banquet

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The Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District hosted its annual awards banquet recently and honored a number of members for outstanding service in 2013. The highlight of the evening was the acknowledgment of Battalion Chief Will Vaigneur as the Fire Officer of the Year and Firefighter Branden Beaton as Firefighter of the Year.

Firefighter Scott Harris receives the Gallantry Award for his rescue of a man from the Beaufort River.
Firefighter Scott Harris receives the Gallantry Award for his rescue of a man from the Beaufort River.

The Pleasant Point Clubhouse served as a warm backdrop as friends and family of the Lady’s Island-St. Helena Fire District gathered to reflect on the past year and honor those who have gone above and beyond the normal call of duty. Awards were granted for members of specialized rescue teams who have put in countless hours of training, accolades were bestowed upon those who have conducted hundreds if not thousands of hours of community outreach, and special attention was paid to the families who support members every day.

The highlights of the night, however, were three awards presented by Fire District Chief Bruce Kline to three very deserving members of the department.

First, Firefighter Scott Harris was honored by his colleagues for his amazing rescue last summer of a man he and his wife witnessed falling from the Woods Memorial Bridge. He and his family successfully rescued the gentleman who suffered only minor injuries in some small part because of Harris’ quick action.

Second, Battalion Chief Will Vaigneur was awarded the 2013 Fire Office of the Year award as voted on by all members of the agency. Chief Vaigneur was heralded for his leadership and the example he sets for everyone in the district as was noted on one member’s nomination form: “Chief Vaigneur, despite being of lesser rank than I, serves as a shining example to me both in my professional life as well as my personal life.” His dedication to the safety of those who are lucky enough to call Lady’s Island or St. Helena home is equaled only by his dedication to his fellow firefighters.

Finally, Firefighter Branden Beaton was awarded the 2013 Firefighter of the Year award, again voted on by all members of the district. Firefighter Beaton was given this honor for his infectious positive attitude, in all that he does for those he works with and those he has dedicated his life to protect.

“It is his strength of character that has endeared him to us all as he is a true lead-by-example man!” said one member. Beaton has been described as soft spoken with the biggest heart. His commitment to our community extends far beyond the fire district, as he mentors and assists the Beaufort High School Football teams.

In all, the evening proved to be a welcomed opportunity to reflect and celebrate all that has been accomplished by the fire district. In 2013, the Lady’s Island-St.. Helena Fire District responded to a total of 2,332 emergency calls for assistance. While that number serves as a minimal decrease from the previous year, the fire district welcomes 2014 with renewed dedication to customer service and the brotherhood of the firefighters that are considered family.