“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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“Telling the Stories of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community”

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January 4, 2024

SRFD Recognizes Excellence with Annual Awards Ceremony

By Juan Ysaguirre

As the year 2023 wound down to a close, the Salt River Fire Department hosted its annual dinner and awards presentation at the Courtyard Marriott on Saturday, December 16. 

Acting Fire Chief Tsosie Wood served as the emcee for the event, which took place in the banquet hall inside the Courtyard Marriott. Dinner was served, and there was also a photo booth for SRFD staff and their loved ones to enjoy during the event. 

Chief Wood made sure to recognize the service and commitment that all of the SRFD staff have showcased during 2023. Up on the screen, a video and slideshow honored the brave firefighters who gave their life in the line of duty, highlighted new promotions in the department, and welcomed the new probationary firefighters who have recently joined the ranks of the SRFD.

Before handing out awards, Chief Wood invited SRPMIC President Martin Harvier up to the front to say a few words. 

“I want you all to know [that at] every Council meeting we start with a prayer. We [pray that] our first responders, police and fire department are safe when they’re doing their job,” he said. “We all want you to come home safe, every day.” 

Near the end of his speech, President Harvier said, “Before I finish, I want to thank Chief Wood for stepping in and stepping up. I think he’s done a good job.” 

SRPMIC Council members Deanna Scabby and Cheryl Doka also said a few words about how blessed they felt to have been in the presence of so many heroes. 

“It’s an honor to be here. I was recently at the firefighter graduation in Mesa,” began Scabby, “and when I first walked into the room, I almost cried. It was so amazing, so intense. I know what you [go] through. You put your lives in danger. Thank you so much for being in our fire department,” she said.

Council member Doka then congratulated the new SRFD graduates. “Be sure to take care of yourself. You have so much support in this room, and there’s a lot of resources here for you,” she said. 

Four prestigious awards were presented. The Brendan Bessee Award for Rookie of the Year went to Lawrence Tom. The award for Paramedic/EMT of the Year went to Angel Hudgens. Capt. Jack Bellefeuille won the award for Firefighter of the Year. The award for SRFD Officer of the Year went to Capt. Steve Wood, who was unavailable due to working his shift. 

The 2023 Fire Marshal Frank Molina Prevention Award went to Robert Scabby. During his acceptance speech, Scabby thanked his family and loved ones and shared insights on how he performs his duties day in and day out. 

“I’m truly honored to be here, and congratulations to all the firefighters who have just started,” he said. Scabby expressed his appreciation to the SRFD and spoke about the important work they all do. “The coolest part [for me] this year was working with the at-risk youth and the court-ordered kids. By day three they were asking me how to be a firefighter. If we can change one life, that makes it all better. Thank you.” 

After the awards ceremony, the SRFD team and their loved ones spent the rest of the evening socializing. Toward the end of the night, Chief Wood and his staff handed out raffle prizes, which included a Yeti thermos, a karaoke machine, an ice chest and a 55-inch television. 

Nearly half of the recent graduates from the 2023-2 Heat Seeker class left the award ceremony early, as the following day they would be on shift for the first time as probationary firefighters for the SRFD.

Salt River Fire Department Honors 


Deputy Fire Chief Mike Mink


Anthony Garcia
Jimmy Molina


Ray Cartagena
Chris Hertzog
Jared Miles
Joe Vesely


Carlos Aguilera
Jessie Alvarado
Damian Castro
Michael Diaz
Daniel Garcia
Shannon Glynn
Alex Jimenez-Hill
Josh Kennedy
Luis Lopez
Liz Otano
Rilee Rhees
Christopher Robison
Adam Ruiz
Nathaniel Saldivar
Adrienne Scabby
Jayden Waterman
Pierce Willcutt
Kalib Zaso