Firefighter Honored For 17 Years

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In Robb Beery's home, firefighting is a family affair.

His wife Lee Ann battles blazes for the Arizona State Land Department, and their son, Rocky, works on an engine in Cave Creek.

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Fire Capt. Robb Beery, a 17-year veteran, earns Payson Fire Department's 2005 Firefighter of the Year, Feb. 22.

Beery received the Payson Firefighter of the Year award, along with two other public servants -- Payson Police Sgt. John Heflin and dispatcher Irma Bramlet -- on Feb. 22 during a ceremony held at Mazatzal Casino.

Beery's career in public safety began as a childhood passion for helping people.

"I went to EMT class right out of high school," said Beery, a native of Payson.

After receiving his paramedic credentials, Beery, now fire captain, worked for a local ambulance company. Five years later, his livelihood blossomed.

Beery's career with the Payson Fire Department spans 17 years.

The scariest moment of his career happened five or six years ago near Slate Creek.

"A semi ran into a bunch of cars and we had to airlift 14 (people) out and one died," Beery said. "There were three of us on the scene originally. What do we do with (all those people who need help)? We were overwhelmed."

Beery said the most challenging part of his job is educating the public about the dangers of wildfires.

During his spare time, he works on Payson's dispatch infrastructure.

"Beery has been an integral member of the town's public-safety computer-aided dispatch and records management system implementation team," Fire Chief Marti deMasi said. "He also serves as a member of an Incident Management Team for wildland fires and other major incidents."

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