South Gulf Fire Rescue Fire Chief Michael Barrett is presented with the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association’s Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year award. Pictured, from left: Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association Board President Harold Theus, Pace Fire Rescue Chief Robbie Whitfield, South Gulf Fire Rescue Fire Chief Mike Barrett, Assistant Director of the State Fire Marshals John Gatlin and State Volunteer Fire Coordinator Charlie Frank. [ Wendy Weitzel | The Star ]
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Gulf County’s Barrett awarded Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year

The Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association recognized and awarded South Gulf Fire Rescue Fire Chief Michael Barrett with the Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year Award Tuesday.

This award is the most prestigious honor the Florida fire service can give to a volunteer chief, according to members of the Fire Chiefs’ Association who surprised Barrett during the Aug. 22 Gulf County Board of County Commissioners meeting. It not only reflects leadership in the fire service, but also in the community. The volunteer fire chief of the year is awarded to serve as an example for all other fire chief executives in the state to aspire to.

“Last month the Florida Fire Chiefs’ Association held the executive development conference in Naples,” said FFCA’s Board President Harold Theus as he took to the podium in the meeting. “And one of the time-honored traditions during this event is our announcement of the fire chief of the year and the volunteer fire chief of the year.”

“Due to some circumstances that took place, the volunteer fire chief was not able to be present in Naples, and so we wanted to come out to the home of this volunteer fire chief and recognize him here.”

Barrett was selected by his peers for the award based on criteria in the areas of leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, service to the community and contribution to the fire service.

“Chief Barrett leads South Gulf Fire Rescue, a department that has 45 employees that are 100 percent volunteer,” Theus said. “… He works hand in hand with South Gulf Fire Rescue Community Nonprofit…; promotes professional training, achieving accredited certification and procicing safe protocols; always finds a way to point out the right things a volunteer firefighter does, not just mistakes; and makes training both a priority but also an enjoyable learning experience.”

Barrett has worked in the fire service for decades, spending 40 years as a certified firefighter EMT professional in Dallas Texas before moving to Gulf County. He is a veteran of the United States Air Force.

He was promoted from assistant chief to fire chief of South Gulf Fire Rescue four years ago.

“I am humbled, honored and grateful for this,” said Barrett upon accepting the award, “and for the support I get not only from the county and the county administration, but from the public citizens.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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