NEWBERRY — Captain Tim Swygert, 55, has been named the 2018 Firefighter of the Year. With over 30 years of experience with the City of Newberry Fire Department, Chief Keith Minick says Swygert is a dedicated member of the department.
“Throughout his career, he has been involved and certified in many different fields from instructing, fire investigation, hazardous materials technician, fire inspections and community risk reduction, just to name a few, above his firefighting duties. His passion for the betterment of the department shows, and has been recognized through this award for Firefighter of the Year. It is a pleasure having him on our team,” Minick said.
Swygert said it was a shock being named Firefighter of the Year, adding that there are so many people who work and volunteer for the city that, he said, do as much and more than he does.
“I was very happy to receive it, but I feel like there are a lot of other people that do as much work, if not more. They actually make me look good when they do good,” he said. “I look at it as, we all work together, not one individual, it is a team, the full time, the part time, the volunteers and even the county has a lot of good volunteers, they get involved with us sometimes. We all work together as a team.”
Swygert got involved with fire service in 1986, when he volunteered with Friendly Fire Department, he then applied for a position with the city and began working as a full time firefighter in August of 1987.
“I was interested in the fire service, wanting to help people. Then, after I got in, I enjoyed it and decided to try and pursue it as a career. I was fortunate to get hired full time, and I made it a career since 1987,” Swygert said.
And a career he has made it, as he has climbed through the ranks and is now captain of C Shift.
Swygert is one of many career firefighters that started as a volunteer, and when it comes to volunteers, he is glad they have people willing to assist.
“There are a lot of volunteers, that it is not their goal to become a career, they just wanna volunteer, they wanna work their regular professions, and we greatly appreciate that. We have over 20 volunteers, some do promote from volunteer, and wanna get it as a career. I like to know that they can come and get trained, and if they wanna be full time with us, they can,” Swygert said.
Swygert said the most satisfying part of being a firefighter is knowing you are helping people.
“Knowing you can go to a person when they are having a bad day. We get called, I don’t like to run calls because I know somebody is losing something, losing things valuable to them. I do like helping them when I go, to make their day better, to make them realize help is there. We are going to do what we can to help them and their family, save them or their possessions,” he said. “It’s not me working, it’s God working through me, to help people in their time of need.”
Swygert is a life long Newberry County resident, he was born April 12, 1963 to Franklin and Julienne Swygert. He went to Newberry Academy, until the ninth grade when he transferred to Newberry High School. After graduating he went on to Horry-Georgetown Technical College, where he received his associate’s degree. In 2006, he received his bachelor’s degree in business management from Limestone College.
“I decided to go back because it was a goal that I had, I was wanting to try and get my bachelor’s degree,” he said.
Tim Swygert is married to Tracy Swygert.
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.