Everyday firefighters put their life on the line for complete strangers. Recently, many Biloxi firefighters were honored for their heroism, including one who was awarded one of the department’s highest honors.
Only three firefighters in the Biloxi Fire Department’s history have won the Phil McCabe Five Bugle Award. Deputy Chief Andy Mason is one of them. “It is humbling, it’s a huge honor, and the first recipient was Battalion Chief Murphy. He is retired from us. Man he is just a good guy, always there for anybody any time off duty or on duty and to be recognized with him and Firefighter 3 Darren Enders who passed away with us last year on the job, conditions, with cancer. To be linked with those people is just humbling beyond measure, it really is.”
Named for the Biloxi Fire Department’s first chief, the Phil McCabe Award recognizes a member who exemplifies the department motto of “always ready with willing hearts.” Something Fire Chief Joe Boney says Mason demonstrates daily. “He has a passion for the job. He has a passion for not just the job, but to family and God. That shows in everything that he does. Not just me, but I feel the department as a whole feels he is deserving of this award.”
Mason is a 24 year veteran with the fire department and has seen it all. He even worked through devastating events such as Hurricane Katrina. “It’s all about being a servant. I think servitude is the most important thing we do, the customer service that we do on someone’s worst day. We are there to try to make it better, either make the situation better or make them feel better.”
But despite having done so much for the community, Mason tells News 25 he was still shocked when he heard Chief Joe Boney call his name during the ceremony. “I wasn’t sure until he started reading his speech and he said someone who aggravated him a whole lot because we do have some animated discussions because we have served for so long together.”
Mason’s award, announced during the department’s annual awards ceremony, was among more than 120 presentations highlighting two dozen acts of heroism and accomplishments.