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Andy Harris named Belmont Firefighter of the Year

Jan 16, 2020 10:03AM

By Alan Hodge

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Belmont’s Firefighter of the Year, Andy Harris, is keeping his family tradition of fire service going strong.

“I’m very humbled to receive the award,” Harris said.  “I’m thankful as well and excited.”

Harris, 27, is the son of Community Volunteer 32 firefighter Mike Harris and the grandson of Community 32 veteran Richard Harris. Incidentally, a few years ago Richard received the prestigious Order of the Longleaf Pine for his 50 years of firefighting service. 

“Their willingness to help people in time of need inspired me to become a firefighter,” Harris said.

Andy got  his start in the firefighting field at Community VFD back in 2007 when he was just a teenager. Later, he joined Ranlo Fire and Rescue where he still serves. He became a full time Belmont firefighter in July, 2017. He took hundreds of hours of schooling at Gaston College and Cleveland Community College to earn his Firefighter I and II certificates and also be designated as an EMT, Technical Rescue, and Driver/Operator.

Harris is quick to point out what it is about the fire service, especially in Belmont, that makes the job great.

“I like riding that big, red, truck,” he said. “Really, it’s the guys at the station that make it great. It’s the camaraderie and the time we spend together. It’s a brotherhood and I like being part of it.”

But the fire service is a serious one, and Harris thought back to an incident he was involved in proving that point- and the reward when it was over.

“We rescued a 14-year-old from the South Fork River,” he said. “I remember the look on his mother’s face when they were reunited.”

Alex Hardee, Harris’s supervisor, recognizes Andy’s commitment to the job.

“He strives to better himself and the Belmont Fire Department,” said Hardee.  “He is the prime example of what the fire service needs for on-going success in public safety.”

As for the future, Harris has his firefighting course set.

“I plan to stay with it until I retire,” he said. “I’m happy.”