From lighting small fires in the chemistry lab to fighting real fires as a local firefighter, Jerome Lubetz’s career path is anything but conventional.
His strong work ethic and ability to motivate students and now fellow firefighters has earned him a local organization’s top honor.
The Rim Country Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution named Lubetz the Northern Gila County Firefighter of the Year.
Lubetz has served six years with the Payson Fire Department as a paramedic/ firefighter. He joined the department after leaving his position as a chemistry teacher at Payson High School.
The Northern Gila County Fire Chiefs nominated Lubetz for the award in June.
Fire Chief Marty deMasi said Lubetz always performs his daily duties in a “superior fashion.”
On top of this, he serves as administrator of the department’s reserve firefighter program and was instrumental in securing a live-fire training facility for Payson.
“Jerome has not only administered these projects on a day-to-day basis, but has worked very hard to create the policies needed for long-term sustainability of both programs,” deMasi wrote. “He has also been responsible for making necessary changes that has helped not only Payson’s reserve firefighter program, but also many of the other fire department’s programs increase productivity while maintaining high quality.”
The fire department purchased the $170,000 live-fire training facility in the spring of 2010, a huge boost for the department, which used to have to send firefighters to Globe or Phoenix for training.
Two metal storage crates make up the fire training facility, which simulates a variety of situations firefighters could face, from a falling floor to a blocked door.
Not far from his teaching roots, Lubetz also helps mentor new firefighters.
“Jerome has used his extensive knowledge and experience as a firefighter and teacher to create and administer a high-quality and reliable career firefighter testing process that produces qualified firefighters that are able to move into career positions,” deMasi said.
Lubetz also serves as the department’s CPR instructor and public educator.
“Thanks for setting the example for all of us at the Payson Fire Department,” said Battalion Chief Dan Bramble.
Lubetz humbly accepted the award from Don Castleman, president of the Rim Country Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution.
Lubetz said it takes a team effort to run a successful fire department and there are a lot of “equally deserving” firefighters who deserve such an award.