Moak honored for Sunday service to BFD

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 16, 2008

For 38 years, Tom Moak has faithfully reported to the BrookhavenFire Department for duty in all weather, all seasons and under allconditions, and undoubtedly he has saved people from the fire.

But he has never physically fought one.

Moak, 86, has seen firefighters come and go in the department forclose to four decades. And he has prayed with – and for – everyonewho has been there in that time during his every-Sunday visits tothe department to teach Sunday school.

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Last Monday night, BFD honored him at its Christmas party andawards banquet by acknowledging him as one of their own. Fire ChiefBob Watts gave Moak a plaque commemorating his service and a BFDshirt and hat of his very own.

“Mr. Tom, you wear that hat anywhere you want,” he said. “We’reproud to see you in it.”

Watts said the fire department has grown and evolved in the timehe’s been involved, but some things have remained steady.

“A lot’s changed since I got here in 1970,” he said. “But we stillhave Sunday school, and we still have the same teacher.”

Moak said the ministry has been a blessing to him since he enjoysteaching and preparing for the lesson. But also, he said, thefellowship has been an important part of the ministry as well.

“I’ve made lots of friends,” he said. “And one thing I know I’velearned is that the only way you can really do something for God isto do something for someone else. You can’t give God a glass ofwater, but by doing that for someone who needs it, you’ve done itfor Him.”

Shift Capt. Randy Sykes pointed out that Moak has been at thedepartment longer than anyone except the chief.

“On the seniority list, I’m number two,” he said. “But Mr. Tom isdefinitely ahead of me in years served.”

Moak and his wife, Sue, have been teaching Sunday school at FirstBaptist Church for 60 years as well.

“That’s easy when you’re 86,” he said, laughing.

The fire department also announced its Firefighter of the Year atMonday night’s banquet, an honor that is voted on by the wholedepartment.

Capt. Donald Sterling received the award. Watts said Sterling’sselection just further reinforced his faith in the men of hisdepartment.

“Apparently character still counts for something,” Watts said.

Sterling, who is known among his co-workers for his leadership andhumility, said he was honored to receive the award.

“What can I say but thank you for looking past my faults enough tochoose me for this,” he said. “It really means a lot to know yourco-workers think that much of you.”

Several firefighters also were honored with service pins for 10,15, 20 and 25 years in the department.