Firefighter of the Year


By  Herald-Whig

H-W Photo/Phil Carlson

Posted: Feb. 23, 2018 9:30 pm Updated: Feb. 23, 2018 11:26 pm

QUINCY — Both Tri-Township firefighter Kyle Dixon and Illinois State Police Trooper Cory Fox love their jobs and aren’t in it for the accolades.

But accolades were in order Friday, when the Quincy Exchange Club named Fox as Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and Dixon as Firefighter of the Year.

Both gave short acceptance speeches after they learned they were being recognized at Friday’s Exchange Club’s Public Safety Officer Appreciation Luncheon at the Elks Club.

Adams County Sheriff Brian VonderHaar said Fox, who works in District 14 based in Macomb, responded to a domestic disturbance in Oquawka in March along with a Henderson County sheriff’s deputy. The man involved was holding a knife in his fist as if he intended to use it.

Despite the use of Tasers, the man tackled both Fox and the deputy and initiated a ground fight, eventually pinning the deputy. Fox fought with the suspect, who tried to grab the trooper’s firearm, and was able to subdue him.

“It is District 14’s command opinion that Trooper Fox saved the life of the deputy and possibly the life of the domestic battery victim,” VonderHaar said.

He said Fox also has been recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his enforcement of laws against drunken driving and has mentored new law enforcement officers.

Fox thanked the command staff for the nomination and lauded other law enforcement officers he has met at the Exchange Club’s annual awards ceremony.

“It’s a great honor every year to listen to the stories,” Fox said. “I’ve trained with some of the guys that have gotten it before, and it’s just really nice that the Exchange Club does this.”

Quincy Fire Chief Joe Henning presented the Firefighter of the Year award to Dixon. He noted that Dixon showed his love for the profession when he became a member of the Quincy Fire Department’s Explorer program as a teen.

Dixon has been an on-call firefighter with the Tri-Township Fire Department since 2006, and he is the department’s emergency medical service officer. He is also a captain with the Adams County Ambulance Service.

“In the words of his chief, ‘He sets the bar high, consistently being one of the firefighters with the highest percentage of off-duty responses full- or part-time,’ ” Henning said.

Dixon was surprised and humbled that he received the award. He said he looks forward to working in public safety every day.

“Firefighting and public safety in general was something I identified early on, and that was my focus coming out of high school,” Dixon said.

Also honored Friday were Cindy Vancil-Haxel and Frank Haxel, who shared the Citizen of the Year award for their work with We Back the Blue campaign in Quincy, which rallied public support for local law enforcement, and Six String Heroes, which provides guitar lessons for military veterans.

“It just takes a little bit of work to make a big difference, and I’m just very honored (to receive) the award,” Vancil-Haxel said.

Haxel and Vancil-Haxel accepted the award in honor of law enforcement officers and first responders.

“You guys are the guys who get up every day, you put on the uniforms, you strap on the belts, you pin on that badge, and you guys go out and do the heavy lifting,” Haxel said.

Year Firefighter of the Year
2017-18 Kyle Dixon – TTFD
2015-16 Lt Scott Lucey QFD
2014-15 Chief Rick Zaerr TTFD
2013-14 Lt Richard Kestner TTFD
2012-13 Asst Chief James Pioch QFD
2011-12 Lt Eric Becks and Justin Twaddle QFD
2010-11 Dennis Behl QFD
2009-10 Darren Smith TTFD
2008-09 Tom Bentley QFD