Engineer named Firefighter of Year

Kris Smith, right, is the McComb Fire Department’s Firefighter of the Year. He’s pictured with the Exchange Club’s Chad Reed, left, and Fire Chief Gary McKenzie. 

Kris Smith doesn’t run into burning buildings, but if not for his job with the McComb Fire Department, his fellow firefighters wouldn’t be able to, either.

As a pump engineer, Smith is a utility man who’s responsible for driving the truck and operating the complicated equipment it’s outfitted with to make sure firefighters have the water they need to battle a fire.

“He makes the determination whether they’re going to use foam, whether they’re going to use water. Anything they need, he’s the logistics guy. He’s the pump operator,” Fire Chief Gary McKenzie said.

Smith’s vital work and commitment to his job earned him the department’s Firefighter of the Year Award, which was presented at Thursday’s McComb Exchange Club meeting.

“Every organization has always got a go-to person. This is that person you know you an always count on to get the job done,” McKenzie said. “Engineer Kris Smith is one of those guys for the McComb Fire Department.”

McKenzie said Smith’s peers in the department nominated him for the award by an “overwhelming margin.”

“Kris Smith was selected for his dedication and his excellent work,” McKenzie said. “We’re proud to have him.”

“It’s an honor to accept this award,” Smith said. “It’s an honor and it’s a privilege to be able to get it.”

Smith is based at Station No. 4 on Parklane Road and drives Engine 14.

A 1997 McComb High School graduate, he joined the department on May 12, 2004.

He’s married with two children, and in addition to being a firefighter, he runs a lawn care service and is a co-owner of Handy Hardware in Magnolia.

McKenzie said it takes a lot of skill to do Smith’s job.

“His job is to drive the truck to the scene. Once there, he’s the guy who supplies the water,” he said. “It’s not just a matter of turn it on and keep an eye on it, there’s a lot of things going on.”

McKenzie said engineers have to think constantly and quickly to calculate friction loss, pressure and other factors that can affect water supply.

“Those guys in there fighting fires, their lives depend on how well he does his job, and he’s one of the best,” McKenzie said. “There’s a lot of mathematical equations that go on in his head.”

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