Assistant fire chief receives award

Ashley Hunter
ECB Publishing, Inc.

A hometown fire chief in Monticello was awarded in Tallahassee for his humanitarian efforts in September. When members of the Monticello City Council realized that a well-known local had been decorated, they decided to honor him at home as well.
Michael Long, an assistant fire chief at the Monticello Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD), has been overseeing community fire prevention and the training of fledgling firefighters for quite a while and on Wednesday, Sept. 11, Long's efforts were honored in Tallahassee when he was presented with the Glenn J. Winuk Humanitarian Service Award.
The humble and selfless Long accepted the award quietly, and life returned to normal – until Monticello City Councilman Troy Avera read about the Monticello's hometown fire chief award in a Tallahassee newspaper.
The Winuk Award is no small recognition – presented annually, the award is given out by the Tallahassee law office of Holland & Knight alongside the Leon County Government offices, and seeks to honor the memory of a 9/11 hero, Glenn Winuk, who died valiantly in the attack on the World Trade Center as he scarified his life to save others.
Those who receive the award are recognized for their sacrificial service that is given for the benefit of others in their community.
For the 2019 award, Assistant Fire Chief Long was nominated and on Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the Florida State University's College of Law's rotunda, he was presented with the award by the Holland & Knight law firm.
“He has given his time for years and years and years and years,” said Monticello City Councilman Avera at the meeting of the city council on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Outside of his work as an assistant fire chief, Long trains new firefighters for volunteer fire departments in Jefferson County as well as for fire agencies in the counties that surround Jefferson.
“In doing so, he helps all of the volunteer fire departments around the state,” adds Avera.
Avera also mentioned the work of Michael Long and MVFD Fire Chief Lester Lawrence that brought the department's Insurance Safety Office (ISO) rating down to a 4 within city limits.
A fire department's ISO rating comes from the quality of the training and staffing at the agency, the availability of a water supply, the quality of the area's 911 Communication Center and the community outreach (such as fire prevention and safety courses) provided by the department.
The ISO scale ranges from a 1 (best possible score) to a 10 (worst possible score); at an ISO 4, the MVFD is marked as an very well-performing department and Councilman Avera remarked on the city's score of ISO 4, compared to the county's score of ISO 6.
By going down to a ISO 4, home and business owners whose property was positioned within five miles of the MVFD are now paying lower insurance costs by, Avera speculated, anywhere between $100-$300 a year.
“I wanted to be able to recognize him in Monticello,” concluded Avera. “He's one of the people that – amongst us all – that makes our community a great community.”
After Avera had finished completing his recognition for Mike Long, the assistant fire chief asked to speak briefly to the audience at the city council meeting.
First, he thanked his wife for her support through the years as he trained countless classes of future firefighters and EMTs.
Secondly, Long wished to inform the public on an opportunity for those interested in serving their communities through fighting fires or providing emergency medical services.
During his time as a member of the Florida Fire Chief Association's board, Long had helped to establish a scholarship through the association's foundation, which would provide financial support for young men and women interested in a career as a firefighter or EMT.
He expressed a desire to see local men and women in Jefferson County use that scholarship and become firefighters.
In order for the scholarship to be used, the applicant must have a mentor, which the MVFD has pledged to do for any local individual who wishes to pursue a first responder career.
“I want to get this into our community,” said Long. “Our department has agreed to be a mentor to [an] individual. The key is finding some young man or young woman who wants to be a firefighter or EMT for a career.”
Whether that firefighter ended up at MVFD, another volunteer agency or the JCFR, Long expressed a desire to see more young people applying for the scholarship and going through the training process.
“Its a great opportunity and this community needs to take advantage of it,” concluded Long.
In addition to his efforts with the fire services in the county, Michael Long is a decorated veteran who formerly served in Vietnam as a Green Beret.