(TROY, MI) – Jeff Gifford was always intrigued by Police Officers and Firefighters as a child, his grandfather was a volunteer firefighter in Pennsylvania so he was familiar with Fire Departments. Jeff and his family moved to Troy from Berkley when he was four years old. Growing up in Troy, Jeff played baseball with TBB, and Bob Matlick, one of Troy’s former Fire Inspectors was his baseball coach, giving him more ideas about firefighting.
After he graduated from Athens High School, Jeff decided to apply to the Troy Fire Department and he was accepted as a new volunteer Firefighter at Fire Station 1 in February of 1994, achieving a long term goal. Jeff still remembers his first fire as a probationary firefighter, a major one at the old Mountain Jack’s Restaurant on Rochester Road, February 22.
Jeff has been an active member for the past 26 years, taking on many roles, responsibilities, and duties. When the Fire Department created Fire Explorer Post 911 in 1996, Jeff served as an associate advisor. Exploring is the young adult program of the Boy Scouts of America Learning for Life. Explorer Posts introduce young men and women, between the ages of 14 and 20, to a career in fields such as firefighting and rescue.
“The primary focus of Post 911 is community service with an emphasis on fire and rescue,” Jeff Gifford said. “I have enjoyed using my fire training and experience to guide and train the explorers, and it’s great to see many of them go on to serve on the Troy Fire Department as well as other fire departments, some serving as officers.”
Over the years Jeff has also been a Field Training Officer (FTO) and has been instrumental in helping to train the new Firefighters. As one of the senior members at Station 1, Jeff is highly respected by the other Firefighters. He is very knowledgeable offering input at training and fire scenes that is valued by other members. Jeff also serves as a crew leader and works with the officers to safely complete any and all objectives.
Jeff has been a truck driver for many years, the last five driving for Sanders Fine Chocolates. He has enjoyed helping on the Fire Open House committee, bringing fire trucks to neighborhood block parties and into the community.
“I love being a Troy Firefighter because it is such an adrenalin rush at times,” Jeff said. It is very self-gratifying to see the positive end results of our work. I especially enjoy training the younger firefighters driving the trucks since that’s what I do for a living.”
During his 26 years on the department, Jeff has received a number of service commendations and awards. He was the Station Member of the Year in 2015 and 2019; received safe driving awards in 2009 for 15 years and 2014 for 20 years of safe driving; and Unit Commendations for Outstanding Performance meeting 100% of Troy Fire Department training objectives for three years. In 2011 he received a Merit Award for his participation at a multiple alarm structure fire on Kirts Blvd at the Sunnymeade Apartments; in 2013 received a Merit Award for his participation at a second alarm structure fire on Park Street; and received a Merit Award in 2014 for Exemplary performance with the Canterbury Square multiple alarm structure fire.
“Firefighting gets in your blood and it’s so impressive seeing a lot of family tradition within the Troy Fire Department. Being a Troy firefighter gives me the chance to help others within our community and make a difference. It’s tough seeing the bad things I have witnessed over the years, but we learn to stay focused and perform the duties we are trained to do at an incident. I would not trade this experience for anything,” Jeff added.
“Jeff is a tremendous asset to Station 1 and the Troy Fire Department, and we are so fortunate to have him on our team. He always seeks to improve his knowledge and abilities in order to enhance the Troy Fire Department, and Station #1 in particular. We are proud that Jeff is our 2019 Firefighter of the Year,” Fire Chief David Roberts said.
“The volunteer firefighters for the City of Troy are a testament to our community’s giving spirit,” Mayor Ethan Baker said. “On behalf of the Troy City Council, I would like to congratulate Jeff as Firefighter of the Year and thank him for his 26 years of dedicated service to our citizens.”
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