Kilgore battalion chief named state’s Firefighter of the Year

Kilgore battalion chief named state’s Firefighter of the Year
Longview News Journal
Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 3:00pm

Kilgore Fire Department Battalion Chief Dennis Gage was a 16-year-old high school student in Pritchett when the volunteer fire department there was having a hard time finding members.

“The chief came and asked me if I’d be interested, and I said ‘Yes sir, I’d be glad to,’ ” Gage recalled Friday at his office in Kilgore’s Central Fire Station.

Nearly 40 years of service later, Gage was recognized this past week as Firefighter of the Year in the Texas by the State Firemen’s and Fire Marshals’ Association during the organization’s annual convention in The Woodlands.

“No one from our area has ever won it,” he said. “Considering how many firefighters there are in Texas, it’s pretty neat.”

A $500 check to purchase any needed equipment accompanied the trophy, sponsored by firefighters’ insurance group VFIS.

Gage went on to graduate from Gladewater High School in 1971, and became a full-time firefighter with the Gladewater Fire Department in 1973. He joined the Kilgore department in 1979, working his way up.

“I wouldn’t have done anything differently. It’s nice to be able to help somebody. It’s been a good career,” he said. “It’s interesting sometimes to go into burning buildings.”

The career is rewarding he said, but not easy.

“The best day fire fighting is not having any calls. It means people aren’t having a bad day,” he said. “There are days we are so busy we never see the station.”

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