Chief Honored

CCFR Chief Russ Mason named finalist for National Fire Chief of the Year Award.



Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) Fire Chief Russ Mason has been selected as one of ten national finalists for the 2012 Career Fire Chief of the Year Awards. The award, which is presented by FIRE CHIEF Magazine, honours one volunteer chief and one career chief for long-time dedication and leadership in the fire and emergency services.

Chief Mason’s nomination was based upon his 35-years of dedication to keeping communities safe as a state-wide leader of the fire service. After starting as a volunteer firefighter and advancing to the rank of Chief in Bolivar, MO, Chief Mason served as the Asst. Fire Chief of Rolla Fire & Rescue, the Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal and an Associate Instructor with the Missouri Fire & Rescue Training Institute at the University of Missouri. He helped create and implement many state-wide programs and standards including the state’s first state Fire Fighter, Fire Instructor, Fire Inspector and Fire Officer I certification programs, and the States Arson K-9 Program.

In addition to serving as Chief for one of the largest fire districts in the area, he has served on countless boards, associations and commissions including: serving as President of the Professional Fire & Fraud Investigators Association, Vice President of the Missouri Fire Chiefs Association, Vice Chairman for the Missouri Fire Service Alliance, appointed to the Advisory Committee for 911 Service Oversight, Chair of the Missouri Fire & Ambulance District Insurance Trust Fund Board, and serving on the National Fire Academy’s Committee to Revise Fire Investigation Curriculum. He has also testified as an expert witness in the field of fire investigation in Missouri Associate Circuit Court, Circuit Court and United States Federal Court.

“Chief Mason exemplifies what many strive to become. He is an emergency services leader who has responded to more than 2,000 fire-related incidents, has been responsible for point of origin and cause determination for over 900 fires, and has helped create a strongly well-respected fire protection program,” explains CCFR Board President Dave Tilley. “He sets a strong example and is a positive leader for our entire district.”

The winners of FIRE CHIEF’s Fire Chief of the Year Award will be announced on August 3 at the opening session of the Fire-Rescue International conference in Denver. The awards are sponsored by Pierce Manufacturing.

The other finalists for the award are:

  • Chief Kelvin Cochran, Atlanta Fire Rescue Department
  • Chief Joseph “Jay” Fleming, Boston Fire Department
  • Chief Joseph E. Florentino, Little Elm (Texas) Fire Department
  • Chief Craig Haigh, Hanover Park (Ill.) Fire Department
  • Chief Otto Huber, Loveland-Symmes Fire Department, Loveland, Ohio
  • Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, Austin (Texas) Fire Department
  • Chief Bruce Kramer, Navy Region Northwest Fire & Emergency Services, Keyport, Wash.
  • Chief Jack K. McElfish, Sandy Springs (Ga.) Fire Rescue
  • Chief Kenneth M. Torain, Roxboro (N.C.) Fire Department


From The Firetruck To The Pulpit

As a CCFR firefighter for more than 12 years, Mike Barter came to the rescue of hundreds of local residents in need. As much as he had a love of the fire service, Barter says he had a calling from a higher authority.

Barter retired from CCFR at the end of January to take the position as pastor at the First Baptist Church of Vandalia. “I miss the excitement of and camaraderie of being a firefighter, but I am at peace that I am where God wants me to be, even though it meant leaving my comfort zone,” says Barter.

Barter’s days are now spent meeting with parishioners and planning twice-weekly sermons. The Board of Directors honored Barter for his service at a meeting in February. “Mike was a great asset to our department and the community, we will miss having him at Central County” says Chief Russ Mason. “But, it is wonderful to see him answering his lifelong calling.”

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Meet Your New Firefighters

Some come from generations of firefighting, others wanted to serve the community where they grew up, but one thing the six new CCFR firefighters have in common is the desire to help people in their time of need.

The new positions were made possible through the SAFE-T (Securing A Future of Excellence – Together) plan. A main component of the plan was improving staffing levels to meet national standards. NFPA (The National Fire Protection Association) recommends each fire truck be staffed with a minimum of four firefighters.

Since January, CCFR has been able to bring six new firefighter/EMTs on board. “The additional staff helps us provide better responses to emergencies in our community,” says Chief Russ Mason. These additional positions are bringing CCFR closer to the NFPA standards.

The new firefighters have a diverse background and joined the fire service for a variety of reasons. Jeremy Loehrer explains the family history behind his choice to join CCFR, “I was raised around the firehouse and always wanted to be a firefighter to uphold the honor that comes with the job which my father had done throughout my childhood.”

Each of the new firefighters goes through a three-month training and mentorship program within CCFR before joining an engine company. Each day the group is learning the ins and outs of becoming a firefighter/EMT. “My favorite part of the job is getting to be face to face with the public. Making a difference in people’s lives, hopefully for the better,” says James Hill.

They are also experiencing the camaraderie that comes with being a member of the CCFR team, “We have a very tight brotherhood that we share as firefighters,” explains Nick Leone.

Following the completion of their training period the new firefighters will be stationed throughout the District.