Carthage Fire Chief C.E. Brodie Akins has given his life in service to his city — and that dedication was honored Tuesday at the Carthage Fire Department’s annual banquet.

In addition to being named this year’s Fireman of the Year, Carthage Mayor Lynn Vincent presented Akins with a key to the city and State Rep. Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) presented the chief with a state resolution recognizing his service to the city.

Akins’s been leading his department for 50 years, and next year he’ll hit his 60-year service mark. Akins told his colleagues Tuesday that he’s stayed in the department a long time but has no plans to quit.

“I’m going to tell you: If I can still walk and get around, I’m going to put in 50 more years,” he said. “I didn’t know all this was going to happen, but I appreciate every one of you. And you officers and you firemen, I love y’all. I love the fire department. Fire department’s my family.”

The annual banquet honors department firefighters and serves as a way to look back on the past year’s accomplishments. Assistant Chief Gene Giles and Fire Marshal Randy Liedtke highlighted many accomplishments, including extensive fire training for nearly all members and the upcoming delivery of a new fire truck.

Several firefighters earned pins for hitting years of service on the 5-year mark:

  • Jeremy Ray, 5 years
  • Carl Anderson, 10 years
  • Mark Dawson, 20 years
  • Bryan Murff, 30 years
  • Jerry Hanszen, 30 years
  • Tim Snow, 35 years
  • James Moon, 50 years

New firefighters who joined the department this year are Bradley Timmons, Dustin Burns, Luke Hatcher and Michael Cureton.

“We’re there to do our job the best we can to support the City of Carthage, to support the citizens of Carthage and Panola County, many times,” Giles said. “We will continue to do the best job we can each day, trying to get the best training we can and just be the best we can be at the job y’all pay us to do.”

In presenting Akins with an award recognizing his years of service, Giles said he tried to Google other fire chiefs who had served as long as Akins had.

“I couldn’t find anybody,” he said. “That’s just amazing that anyone would serve this community not just for 59 years, but be chief over this bunch of hoodlums for 50 years. I don’t think that myself and our department can say enough to thank you Brodie for what you’ve been and what you’ve done for this department and the City of Carthage.”

In addition to his service in Carthage, Akins has served as an instructor for more than 20 years. He is also a founding member of the North East Texas Fire Prevention School and was instrumental in bringing training opportunities to area firefighters.

Paddie, in a speech Tuesday, fondly recalled the first-ever story he reported on for KGAS Radio after moving back to East Texas: It was a fire at Carthage Cup.

“(Jerry Hanszen) sent me out with a recorder and said go get a news story on this,” Paddie said. “We had a fire that ‘was in full bloom.’”

“We thank you for your service and congratulate you on your 50 years of service and hope you go a whole lot more years,” Paddie said.

Akins said when he first joined the department, it was hard to get funding for the equipment they needed. But that’s not the case today: Akins thanked city officials Tuesday for their continued support.

Giles, himself a 37-year veteran of the department, praised Akins’s leadership.

“If we do what we’re supposed to do, Brodie’s going to be the first one to pat your back and say you did it right,” he said. “If you don’t do it right, he’s going to be the first one that’s going to be in your face and tell you what you did wrong — and that’s the way it should be. I think that from our perspective, that’s what we appreciate. You’re always there for us, you’ve always been there for us and you always will be there for us— for the last 50 years and for the next 50 years.”

Reporter

Carthage native Meredith Shamburger has worked for the Panola Watchman since 2018. Before that, she worked at sister papers in Longview and Marshall; the Dallas Morning News; and The Daily Voice, a hyperlocal news company in Westchester County, New York.