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AFD awards medal of valor, FFOY

ALBANY -- The Albany Fire Department honored a civilian employee of the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission as well as a few of their own firefighters during Tuesday's Albany City Commission meeting.

Receiving the department's medal of valor was WG&L employee Mitchell Sellars, who rescued the driver of a vehicle involved in a single-vehicle crash on Eight Mile Road April 10.

Sellars, who was traveling on the road when the crash occurred, pulled the incapacitated driver -- who was still partially on fire -- from the vehicle and rendered initial first aid until paramedics arrived.

"There is no doubt that without the intervention of Mitchell Sellars on this day, the driver would have surely perished at the scene," Deputy Fire Chief Ron Rowe said.

Lt. Bruce Bennett was named Firefighter of the Year during the ceremony. He, along with Lt. Wesley Wells and firefighters Brian Hopkins and Ryan Stewart, were honored for their work in rescuing a house fire victim from a burning structure on the 500 block of Eighth Avenue, Aug. 8.

According to Rowe, Lt. Bennett was given the honor because of his "ability to make quick decisions and lead a team of firefighters in this extremely stressful situation to a favorable outcome."

Firefighter Rod McKenzie also was honored for what Chief James Carswell called his heroic service while off-duty.

On Nov. 25, 2008, McKenzie extinguished a fire that had started outside of the Pizza Hut on the 2100 block of East Oglethorpe Boulevard before the first responding units arrived, sparing what Rowe said would have likely been significant damage to the structure.

"This is an obvious example where experience, knowledge, skills and abilities were put to proper use to save thousands of dollars for the business owner," Rowe said.