VALDOSTA – “We’re blessed in so many ways,” Valdosta Fire Chief Brian Boutwell said Thursday.
During a virtual promotion ceremony, he reflected on Valdosta Fire Department traditions that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As he spoke to four firefighters who were becoming sergeants, he noted the obstacles they’ve overcome not only because of the pandemic but also in their roles.
“We’re still getting to enjoy today,” Boutwell said. “You’re still here today. Congratulations. Congratulations on your achievements. You were challenged to get here and will continue to face challenges.”
Lamar Berrian, Brandon Tebedo, T.J. Manus and Nicholas Kester were all promoted to sergeants at the ceremony. Family members each pinned their loved ones as they changed ranking.
A city statement explained attendance was limited to immediate family members and select city officials only to follow social distancing guidelines.
“It feels good to be in this position. We worked hard for it,” Berrian said in the statement. “It took us a year to get into our classes and then several months of studying to make sure we were ready, so it was definitely challenging but in the long run, it is very rewarding.”
Boutwell told The Valdosta Daily Times the four new sergeants are true assets to the VFD and show a commitment to their roles that represents the VFD’s professionalism.