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Jun. 25—Dalton Police Department Firefighter of the Year Michael Sams is a mentor and leader who sets an example for his fellow firefighters to follow, according to Chief Todd Pangle.
A "valuable asset with a tremendous work ethic," Sams possesses an unyielding drive to constantly improve at his craft, Pangle explained during Tuesday's meeting of the Dalton Public Safety Commission. A "very well-rounded firefighter," Sams boasts many certifications, including diving and water rescue, and he's a licensed paramedic in Georgia and Tennessee.
Sams initially followed the emergency medical technician career path, as several members of his family are doctors and pharmacists, but he "grew to love firefighting," said the Dalton High School alumnus. To be recognized by his peers as Firefighter of the Year "means a tremendous amount to me."
"I see their professionalism and care for the community every day," Sams added. "Everyone in our department has a deep dedication for what we do."
Being named Firefighter of the Year is "one of the highest respects your fellow firefighters can pay to you," said Terry Mathis, chairman of the Public Safety Commission.
There is "nothing better than recognition by your peers," added Bill Weaver, a member of the commission.
Sams, a member of the Dalton Fire Department since January 2017, has "a passion for fire service and loves everything about the profession," Pangle said. "He goes above and beyond."
Earlier this year, Sams was one of seven Dalton firefighters who received unit citations for their efforts to protect Dalton Police Department officers from a large crowd April 4.
Firefighters and police had responded to a vehicle leaking fuel off the road at the intersection of New Doris and Kate streets at roughly 2:30 a.m., according to Pangle. Firefighters assisted in crowd control to prevent harm to the police officers.
The unit citation is for firefighters who "perform in an outstanding manner during incident operations," according to Pangle. "These actions reflect great credit upon the individuals involved, their assigned companies and the city of Dalton Fire Department."
Sams, who was a firefighter in Hall County for a dozen years before coming to Dalton, also recently helped with a swift water rescue in Gordon County, where a man had been trapped in his vehicle by rushing rapids, Pangle said. Sams has built "an impressive résumé."
In May, the fire department recorded 321 incidents, 104 of which were classified under the fire designation, with 207 considered EMS, Pangle said. The department's average turnout time, "from dispatch to en route," was 69 seconds, while the average response time, "dispatch to arrival," was 4:34, and the average time on scene was 20:13.
Thursday was the busiest day of the week for the department last month, with 51 incidents, and 5 to 6 p.m. was the busiest time, with 27 calls, he said. Station 1, located downtown, was the busiest of five stations, with 117 incidents.
In May, the department responded to four building fires and three passenger vehicle fires, and the department's prevention division performed 101 inspections, he said. The department recorded nearly 2,800 training hours that month, including four members of the department's special operations team attending a swift water rescue technician training at the U.S. National Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The department is within its budget so far this year, and "we do not foresee any issues moving forward," Pangle said. "We're about 5% under budget right now."