Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

October 5, 2012

Optimist Club honors Emsweller

Veteran firefighter is 15th individual winner

Brent Brown
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Among his firefighting brethren at the Larry D. Filler Station One firehouse Thursday morning, veteran Greensburg Fire Department (GFD) member Rick Emsweller was honored as “Firefighter of the Year” by the Greensburg Optimist Club.

Emsweller received his plaque in front of his wife Connie and daughter Megan due to 32 years of distinguished GFD service. Described as “a man of few words,” Emsweller lived up to that modest moniker as he accepted his award, offering thanks to those who officially recognized his three decades of public service at an early morning breakfast.

Emsweller spoke of changes in training and staffing throughout the years before being lauded for “his spirit and heart” by his friend, Minister Jerran Jackson, Thursday morning. “We’re excited about what’s to come for him.”

Emsweller is set to retire at the end of March, a prospect he and his family are both anticipating, though none are quite sure what Rick will do with his newfound free time.

Thursday’s honoree cited construction and engines as two interests to which he plans to devote some time post retirement. Connie and Megan, however, simply appeared glad at the opportunity to have Rick home more often.

Rick was joined at the podium by his family following an introduction by GFD Captain Brian Wenning, who was a winner of the prestigious Optimist Club award in 1999.

The group met over breakfast in the same station in which Emsweller has spent many days and nights in the last three decades. He received a loud ovation from all in attendance after accepting the award, reflecting on his career and noting how much has changed since he began his dangerous-but-necessary work as a volunteer. Emsweller was hired by the GFD in 1980.

“It’s been a great career,” remarked Rick after receiving his award. “I wouldn’t change a thing.” Emsweller had no knowledge he was to be presented with the award prior to Thursday morning.

Wenning later elaborated on some of the differences in qualifications necessary to become a firefighter in comparison to when he began his career. Both Emsweller and Wenning mentioned statewide training plays a much larger role in landing a firefighting job than it once did, with Wenning adding that physical requirements based around agility and adequate visual ability coupled with proficient mental acuity are now precursors to joining a fire department.

The Greensburg Optimist Club has presented its Firefighter of the Year Award since 1996. The first recipient was Don Minning, a beloved local firefighter who passed away earlier this year.

Present Greensburg Fire Chief Scott Chasteen took the honor in 2004, while the entirety of the GFD and all county volunteer firefighters were recognized as one with the award in 2001 and 2011. Both of those latter two examples were in honor of the many firefighters who lost their lives in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Other past honorees include Carl Geis, Ken Ramer, David Israel, Mike Gasper, Rand Hooten, Bert Baltus, Bill Smith, Gary Wolford, Andy Witkemper, Jay Maddux and Rick Bullard.

Contact: Brent Brown 812-663-3111 x7056