Taylor, who is 54 and has been a firefighter for nearly 39 years, did not know ahead of time he would receive the award at the district’s March 1 semi-annual 2014 meeting in Chapel Hill. He was presented a plaque which cited “recognition of your dedicated service and support” of the association.
The district’s action nominates him for the association’s state “Firefighter of the Year” award, to be determined by a committee in June. Nominees come from up to 16 districts in the state, and Taylor said he believed the Northeast Texas one is the largest with 303 departments in 24 counties.
“As big as the district is,” his award is “an honor,” he said Monday
Firefighting is a family tradition for Taylor, who marks his 39th anniversary as a member of the Gilmer Volunteer Fire Dept. in May. His brother, Gilmer Fire Marshal Johnny Taylor, has been a Gilmer volunteer firefighter since 1974, and their late father, Jack Taylor, was with the local fire department for about 40 years before his death in the 1980s while in El Paso for a firefighter convention.
A 1977 graduate of Gilmer High School, Jerry Taylor was employed by the city as a relief fire truck driver in May 1976 and as a full-time paid firefighter in May 1977. In May 1980, he was employed by the Lone Star Steel Fire Dept.
On Jan. 22, 1988, he was employed by the Longview Fire Dept., where he retired June 1, 2012 after 25 years as a driver for the central fire station.
He became the Gilmer Volunteer Fire Dept. chief, a non-paying position, in January 2012, and was employed by the city as paid “deputy chief” last Oct. 1 when fire station supervisor Bob Roberts retired. The paid and non-paid posts are basically one and the same, Taylor explained.
During his career with the Gilmer department, he began as a firefighter and worked his way up through the ranks to become driver, assistant training officer, captain, and assistant chief before becoming chief.
He was named the Gilmer Volunteer Fire Department’s Firefigher of the Year in 1986 and 2011, and received the department’s “reliable responder” award for 2013. He has also served twice as president of the Northeast Texas Firemen’s Assn., in 2001-2002 and 2008-2009, and is a lifetime member.
This summer, Taylor will mark his 30th year as an instructor at the annual Texas A&M University fire school, and he has also been an instructor at the Northeast Texas Fire School at Eastman Chemical for 25 years.
As a volunteer, he holds the advanced firefighter certification and Instruction III certification from the state firefighter and fire marshal association. As a paid firefighter, he holds the intermediate firefighter, Instruction II, and head of department certifications from the Texas Commission on Fire Protection.
The Bettie Volunteer Fire Dept. honored him in 1993 for “exceptional support.”
Taylor is the son of retired Gilmer businesswoman Bird Taylor and is married to Cheryl Taylor, a nurse.