POINT PLEASANT — After 20 years as Point Pleasant’s fire chief, Jeremy Bryant is stepping down.
At only 40 years old, Bryant was surprised with a “retirement party” on Tuesday at the First Church of God Community Building, which was packed with well wishers.
Thinking he was attending a performance by the honors choir from Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School, Bryant was caught off guard to find a room full of people giving him a standing ovation. Those people were not only his family and friends but fellow firefighters from Point Pleasant, as well as from across the county and Gallia County, Ohio. There were personnel with the West Virginia Office of State Fire Marshal, law enforcement and emergency personnel from Mason and Gallia counties also attending.
Mason County Commissioner Rick Handley spoke, congratulating Bryant on behalf of himself and fellow Commissioners Sam Nibert and Tracy Doolittle. He thanked Bryant for the work he has done for the county, saying, as fire chief, Bryant leads the Point Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department on calls well beyond the city limits. Handley also arrived with a certificate of appreciation from Gov. Jim Justice, for Bryant’s 25 total years of service to the Point Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. The certificate from Gov. Justice stated:
“I extend my thanks and congratulations for 25 years of hard work and dedication in regard to your work with the Point Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department, of which 20 was spent as fire chief. Your experience, wisdom and friendliness have made you an exceptional employee and a valuable asset to the Point Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. Your record of accomplishments must be a source of great pride to you, your family and your many friends. Furthermore, your loyalty and sense of duty set a tremendous example for all of us. Please accept my best wishes for the future. It is my sincere hope the years ahead will bring much happiness as you pursue the activities you enjoy.”
Talking to the Point Pleasant Register, Bryant said though he is stepping away from his role as chief, he will be an honorary member of the fire department and be available for training and other assistance if he’s needed. He said he’ll continue to support and pray for his department but from the sidelines. He’s also going to be continuing on in his day job as an account executive with radio stations K92, 94.1 QFM and 99.5 WBYG. He explained he’s looking forward to simply having a normal life with his family, and taking advantage of what most people take for granted, like a guaranteed quiet night at home.
“It (being chief) has basically consumed my whole life,” he said. “I see this as an opportunity to get out and enjoy life a little bit. It’s time. I knew it was time to move on. It’s bittersweet.”
Bryant was just 20 years old when he took on the role of fire chief.
“When I took it, it wasn’t necessarily because I wanted to be the fire chief…it was a necessity somebody had to pick up and lead during a tough time and for some reason I felt God’s calling to follow, take it and run with it. He gave me strength to get through those first two years, which weren’t easy, especially being a young guy, but I was able to step in and get my feet under me and go with it. Its been 20 years but it doesn’t seem like its been 20 years because its run smoothly. I’ve had good guys who put forth a lot of energy and effort. I’ve had good family support from their families all along. That’s what makes it happen..that’s what makes it work.”
Bryant stressed the fact that everyone who joins the department is a volunteer and makes sacrifices of their time and of themselves, along with their families.
Bryant added: “I’ll get credit here right now for what I’ve done but if it wasn’t for most of the guys in this room, I would be nothing. Obviously, I can’t whip the world by myself.”
Bryant’s last day as fire chief is Jan. 31 and he said he wishes the next chief, J.R. Spencer, well, during his tenure.
Emceeing the surprise gathering was Kevin Nott and delivering remarks and the invocation was Rich Blain.
Beth Sergent is editor of Ohio Valley Publishing.