HARRISBURG, Pa. — Vegetable grower and 30-year volunteer firefighter George DeVault, a native of Delaware, Ohio, recently received the Charles A. “Chet” Henry Fire Service Advocacy Award from the Pennsylvania Fire and Emergency Services Institute.
The prestigious award, a medal and a check for $250, was presented Nov. 19 in Harrisburg at PFESI’s 26th annual banquet.
The honor came in recognition of the widespread influence of DeVault’s award-winning memoir Fire Call! about the highs — and lows — of being a volunteer firefighter.
The award is named after legendary Harrisburg Fire Chief Chet Henry, who served as Pennsylvania’s first State Fire Commissioner from 1977 until his retirement in 1989
The award was presented by Chief Henry’s widow, Sandy.
When DeVault joined the Emmaus Fire Department in 1982, Pennsylvania had about 300,000 volunteer firefighters. Today, state fire officials say, that number is closer to 50,000.
In accepting the award, DeVault said, “I wrote Fire Call! because most people don’t have a clue what volunteers really do.”
DeVault, a former reporter at The Columbus Dispatch, was editor of Rodale’s New Farm magazine in the United States and Russia for 25 years.
A two-term board member of the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, DeVault and his wife, Melanie, were named Conservation Farmers of the Year in 2004 by the Lehigh County Conservation District.
DeVault is chairman of the Board of Supervisors in Upper Milford Township, Lehigh County. Voters there just approved a modest, 0.14 percent, increase in the township’s 1 percent earned income tax to preserve farmland and other open space. It is the first open space tax in Lehigh County.
Fire Call! DeVault’s award-winning memoir is available online at amazon.com and wherever books are sold. A portion of the proceeds is donated to volunteer companies.