First Responder Friday: Salutes Bryan Southard Forbush Fire Department

November 8, 2019

Bryan Southard Forbush Fire Department

When someone thinks of their hero they may take a minute to come up with someone famous. For me, this has always been an easy question. My dad has always been my hero! My dad joined the fire service in 1986 and hasn’t looked back since. He started at the bottom as a rookie fireman and worked his way through the ranks to chief, which he held for 14 years. Along the way he has earned many awards including: Rookie of the Year 1986; Firefighter of the Year 1987, 1988, 1990, 1994; Outstanding Young Firefighter 1995, 1996; Fire Chief’s Award 2003; Leadership award 2012; American Legion Firefighter of the Year 2012; American Legion Southern Region Firefighter of the Year 2013. He left his original fire department in 2017 and joined a neighboring department and was awarded Rookie Firefighter of the Year and a Chief’s Award in 2018. He travels the state of North Carolina for classes to help expand his knowledge of the fire service. I could continue with telling of the countless meetings, training, and calls he ran in his years, but many other fireman do the same. I have personally watched my dad leave numerous family lunches and outings to go help someone in need. In years past it used to make me upset that he could leave us. However, when I joined the fire service in 2005, the first call I ran with my dad was a fatality. I watched him go to the victim, knew there was nothing else he could do, and went straight to the other people there to console them and to assist them. After that moment I knew that he left us (his family) to run to someone else’s aid. 


By trade my dad has a concrete business, but for a little while he worked part time for a friend with a towing business. One day he was running a wrecker call and came across a family with a special needs adult child. As you can imagine, anyone would be exasperated after having an accident, much less when you have a special needs child. These people were from around the Greensboro area, roughly an hour away. My dad knew they had no other way to get home and they were struggling to find a way to get back. My dad took them and their vehicle back to the wrecker shop, went back to his house to get a larger vehicle, and returned to take this family back to Greensboro, free of charge. This is the kind of man my dad is. There’s no need anyone can have that is too great. I have watched him be up all night on structure fires and stay many hours past everyone else trying to ensure the family has everything they could need. He would then go home and shower and start his day at work just like he had slept soundly all night. We had a call with a fatality of a younger teenager. The family was brought to a local hospital and my dad ensured that he and a few other firefighters were there to be with the family until more of their family could arrive. This isn’t something that a fire department typically does, but my dad knew we couldn’t help the teenager, and our focus needed to be with the family. These are just a few instances that stand out from his 33 years (and still counting) of fire service.


If you were to ask my dad the highlight of his fire career, he would easily say it was when he was able to fight fire beside his son and daughter. My brother and I both joined the fire service following in our dad’s footsteps. I could think of no one more deserving of this award. Through the many years of service and dedication he has exemplified every aspect of a servant.


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