Each year the WCFFA nominating committee accepts nominations for the Firefighter of the Year Award from WCFFA members.
Tittle, who serves as the chief of the Eldridge Volunteer Fire Department, was nominated for the award by Carbon Hill Fire Chief Lawrence “Buddy” Smith Jr.
Smith wrote the following in his nomination letter to the committee about Tittle.
“Mr. Tittle has been instrumental in keeping the Eldridge Fire Department going with a true Christian atmosphere,” Smith wrote in his nomination letter. “I have known Mr. Ralph Tittle for sixty years and I know he is truly dedicated to his community and serves it well. I feel like an award to Mr. Tittle would be greatly appreciated by the founders of and the continuation of the Gilder Kelley Firefighter of the Year. Anytime we call for assistance, they, like so many others, are always there for us, as we are all brothers and sisters of the Fire Service.”
Patterson, who serves as the assistant fire chief of the Parrish Volunteer Fire Department, was nominated for the award by Parrish Fire Chief Randy Phillips.
Phillips wrote the following in his nomination letter to the committee about Patterson.
“He joined the fire department in 1961 at the young age of 16,” Phillips wrote in his nomination letter. “He knew he would be freely giving his time and pledging to put others first in a time of need no matter how insignificant it may have been and this was an obstacle he took on so willingly. After returning from Vietnam and settling back into his role as a member of the fire department, it came as an easy decision when his fellow members were faced with the task of nominating who would be the best candidate for assistant fire chief. He was elected assistant fire chief in the year 1970 and is currently still holding his position to this date.
“... On any given night, the pagers wail with the tones of a child not breathing, a collison that has happened, a family who is in despair as they watch their house ablaze or someone just needs to be checked for peace of mind, or maybe an elderly citizen has fallen and the family needs help getting them safely put back in bed or transported to a medical facility. No matter the time, date, holiday or location, when the tones go out, and the lights and sirens approach the scene you can rest assured knowing that Mr. Patterson will not delay to extend the helping hand. That hand has helped aid the men and women in the small town of Parrish, the United States of America, Vietnam and back home again for over 50 years now. The Parrish Fire Department without a doubt agrees that it is selfless, honest, dedicated, hard-working men like Mr. Bobby Patterson, which could fulfill the title of Firefighter of the Year more than anyone else we could ever imagine.”
After reading these two letters committee members reportedly had a hard time deciding which of the two men would be given this year’s honor. So in an unprecedented move and because of their dedication and service to their respective communities, the committee decided to name both Patterson and Tittle.