The Henderson Fire Department named Battalion Chief Lee Edmonds, a Warren County native and Warrenton resident, as its Firefighter of the Year. The award was presented during the department’s 45th annual Firefighter of the Year Awards Banquet on Jan. 12.
Edmonds, the son of Bobby and Anne Edmonds of Warrenton, has also served as assistant chief with the Warrenton Rural Volunteer Fire Department more than 10 years.
He can trace his interest in firefighting back to his boyhood years through his uncle, John Blalock, a member of the Warrenton department. When Edmonds rode his bicycle, he would often ride down to the fire station, and was over there for a number of events.
He joined Warrenton VFD through its junior program at the age of 14 and has now been in fire service for more than 22 years.
While he has been a volunteer firefighter for many years, he did not begin his career in firefighting until recent years.
After graduating from Warren County High School, Edmonds worked in deliveries with Holland Industrial of Henderson for eight years before accepting a position with the Henderson Fire Department in 2014.
Since that time, he has worked his way through the ranks and was promoted to battalion chief earlier this month. In this position, Edmonds works to ensure that the fire department operates smoothly by overseeing radio and computer maintenance, reporting and training, in addition to going out on calls.
“My role is prevention and training, to oversee the training and prevention side,” he said.
Edmonds gives fire safety presentations at schools and oversees fire inspection as it relates to businesses.
He accepted his Firefighter of the Year award humbly. Each year, an award committee presents nominations to the fire chief, who then makes the final selection.
“It was an honor to be chosen for (the award) and to receive it,” Edmonds said. “I did not see that coming. It was a shock.”
He added that he was especially surprised because his work now is more behind the scenes.
“My work is 8-5, five days a week. I’m not on call all the time,” Edmonds said. “I’m not out on the front line anymore with the guys. I do a lot behind the scenes that people don’t see.”
While he has made firefighting his career with the Henderson Fire Department, Edmonds considers volunteering with Warrenton Rural to be a vital way to serve his lifelong community.
“Volunteering is important,” he said. “It is serving the community, being there to help someone at their worst time, always being there.”