Valdosta Mayor John Gayle and Valdosta Fire Department Chief Freddie Broome honored Lt. Dereck Willis as the November 2017 Employee of the Month at the Nov. 9 City Council meeting. Lt. Willis received a framed certificate and a check for $200, and his name appears on a plaque displayed in City Hall.
Lt. Willis has been employed with the VFD for nearly 21 years serving as the arson investigator and fire inspector in the Fire Prevention Division. He is responsible for conducting code enforcements, planning reviews, and investigating fires. He is also one who always looks out for the needs of others.
In preparation for Hurricane Irma, the VFD made the administration area of Station #1 accessible to firefighters’ family members as a place of comfort during the storm. Lt. Willis took the initiative to stock the break room with refreshments. While performing his duties during the storm, Lt. Willis took the initiative to pick up food for the firefighters who were on the scene working at various emergency incidents. He looked out for the needs of other first responders, making sure they were all fed and hydrated during the response period.
Another example of his servanthood is when Lt. Willis saw a Facebook post by a resident who requested help in replacing a bike for one of her students who depended on that bike to get to and from school. Since the bike was beyond repair, the student walked five miles to and from school every night and worked during the day to support his family. Lt. Willis contacted a local business who donates bikes to students and was able to receive, not just one bike but, two bikes for the student and one other.
"Lt. Willis is always looking for ways to help citizens in our community, while also maintaining an active home life,” said Fire Chief Freddie Broome. “His love for others and willingness to go to all extents to help others is an inspiration to others and a testament to our Fire Department Family.”
The City of Valdosta applauds Lt. Willis for his willingness to exemplify excellent internal and external customer service skills, to see a need and provide a solution, and for being named the November 2017 Employee of the Month.