Shawnee firefighter named First Responder of the Year
Shawnee firefighter Brennen Stewart was named the News-Star's 2020 First Responder of the Year.
Stewart will receive a $400, a plaque and his firehouse will receive a $100 gift card to Rib Crib.
Stewart said he is extremely grateful for the honor.
"I strive to perform at my highest capabilities for the community and help in any way possible," Stewart said. "I could not thank everyone who nominated me enough for this. It means the world to me."
Stewart said he has served the community four years as a firefighter.
"I began as a volunteer for one year at the McLoud Fire Department straight out of high school and the EOC Firefighter Academy," Stewart said. "I was then hired full time and served for two years. I am currently at the Shawnee Fire Department, serving a great community for a total of one year and seven months."
Ever since he was a child, Stewart said he wanted to be a firefighter just like his father, who was a volunteer firefighter.
"I enjoyed how the entire department was involved in the community and how the department functioned as a family," Stewart said. "I wanted a job that I could protect people and be the person there for them when they are at their worst. Ultimately, I entered the fire academy and made the best career decision of my life."
The firefighter said the best aspects of his job are the daily adventures he gets to have and challenges he get to overcome.
"Every day I go to work there is a challenge; from ropes rescue training, hanging 50 feet in the air on a system you had just learned the day before, fighting a fire with your brothers in a 700-degree house, or even chasing a 50-acre grass fire while choking on smoke...I can’t get enough of it," Stewart said.
However, Stewart said while he loves his job, it's not without its difficulties.
"The biggest challenge for me is having to leave my family for 24 hours or more, missing holidays and family get togethers," Stewart said. "But they know why I do it and support me in every step of the way. They are and always have been my biggest support."
As he continues to serve his community, Stewart said he hopes to help future firefighters be the best they can be.
"In doing so I will continue my training and keep serving the great community of Shawnee," Stewart said.
The firefighter said he is forever thankful to the people who nominated him and support him on a daily basis.
"I would also like to thank my wife who has always supported me throughout my entire career," Stewart said. "I am very fortunate to work with a great crew that is more deserving of this award than I am."
Shawnee Milling and BHHS Benchmark Realty were the sponsors of the 2020 First Responder of the Year.