NEWBERRY — Ken Swygert doesn’t get paid when he puts his life on the line for the City of Newberry Fire Department but his volunteerism received recognition when he was named the City of Newberry’s Firefighter of the Year for 2013.
Swygert is a volunteer firefighter for stations 20 and 21 and has volunteered for 25½ years.
“I just want to help the community and thought it would be something I enjoy doing,” said Swygert. “I plan to stay and volunteer for a while as long as I can.”
Swygert, a Newberry native, said when he chose to be a volunteer firefighter, he knew he wanted to do something different. Also, his younger brother Tim is a captain with the Newberry Fire Department.
When he isn’t helping the community, Ken Swygert works full time for Wilson Tractor as a mechanic. His wife, Linda, works for JF Hawkins/Springfield Place. He also has a daughter, stepdaughter and three stepsons and enjoys playing in a band for fun.
“I play in a band, I play guitar and do some vocals,” he said.
Newberry Fire Chief Keith Minick said he is thankful for a volunteer like Swygert.
“Ken is a great asset to this department due to the fact that he’s always available,” Minick said. “He’s also involved with several of our fundraisers and assists with special calls including Oktoberfest and the Fourth of July fireworks. Ken is one who comes back to work out for health and for himself and his fellow firefighters.”
Minick said the fire department supports firefighters who take extra care of their health.
“He shows great leadership ability (with fitness). It’s rewarding to have a firefighter put forth that effort. It’s a great asset to have that in someone who volunteers their time for this profession,” said Minick.
Since Swygert is a volunteer, he said time can be difficult to manage but “the satisfaction that I’m helping people” is worth it.
Swygert said he also has found time to properly train to be his best. His training includes S.C. interior structure firefighter certification, nationally certified interior structure firefighter and emergency vehicle course driving plus he attended the National Fire Academy this summer in Maryland. Minick said Swygert volunteered to go to the National Fire Academy.