Payne awarded firefighter of the year


Assistant fire chief Wesley Cox (left) and fire chief Jon Head (right) congratulate Chance Payne on being named firefighter of the year. -Jonathan Ledbetter

Assistant fire chief Wesley Cox (left) and fire chief Jon Head (right) congratulate Chance Payne on being named firefighter of the year. -Jonathan Ledbetter

Susan Moore Fire and Rescue firefighter/ advanced EMT Chance Payne was awarded firefighter of the year on Nov. 1. Payne is credited with saving the life of an individual, yet paying attention to details that ultimately gave investigators the needed information that led to an arson arrest.

On July 9, Payne was the first responding unit to the scene of a structure fire. Upon arrival, the building had smoke and fire coming from the structure. Working alone, he immediately established fire ground operations and pulled a 1.75 – inch pre-connect line from the engine so he could begin extinguishing the fire.

During this time, he heard someone yelling from inside the residence and entered the burning building in an attempt to save the person’s life. Upon entering, the residence had zero visibility, which also endangered him to risk of injury or death. Payne located the victim and safely carried the victim out to safety.

Payne then learned a second victim was possibly inside the residence. Mutual aid had arrived, and he and another firefighter entered the residence. The second victim was located and removed to safety. It was then they learned the first victim had run back into the structure, thus requiring a second rescue of the victim by Payne.

In his nomination of Payne, fire chief Jonathan Ledbetter wrote, “By entering the burning house without backup, firefighter Payne exhibited outstanding bravery above and beyond what is expected in the line of duty. He exhibited exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and an unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect human life. His calmness and professionalism in the face of chaos were above reproach. I personally feel that his actions on this date are what we should all strive to imitate.”