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Ridge VFD and RVFD Auxiliary Celebrate 75th Annual Installation of Officers & Awards Banquet
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By Vice President / Lieutenant Scot Best
March 1, 2023

On Saturday, February 25, 2023, the Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and the RVFD Auxiliary installed their 2023 Administrative and Operational Officers, and recognized several members for their contributions during 2022.

The year 2023 marks Ridge VFD’s 75th year of service to St. Mary’s County’s First District. During the banquet, a special 75th Anniversary book was presented to each member, showcasing pictural and written history of our service. In addition, a slide show of emergency calls, social events, and special moments from our past was played during. Special thanks to Keith Raley and the 75th Anniversary Committee for their hard work and the great trip down memory lane!

Philip "Heavy" Ridgell, Past President of the Southern Maryland Volunteer Firemen’s Association, swore in the Administrative Officers, Board of Directors, Operational Officers, and Engineers. Becky Wathen, Past President of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, swore in the Auxiliary Officers.

2023 Board of Directors
Matt Ridgell
Scot Best
Bonnie Ridgell
Johnny Wathen
Brian Cooper
Philip "Heavy" Ridgell
Allen Raley
John Keister
Francis Raley
Rob Dodge
John "Peanut" Gatton

2023 Administrative Officers
President - Matt Ridgell
Vice President - Scot Best
Secretary - Bonnie Ridgell
Assistant Secretary - Carley Hadley
Treasurer - Johnny Wathen

2023 Operational Officers
Chief - Brian Cooper
Assistant Chief - John Keister
Deputy Chief - Bradley Cooper
Captain 4 - Danny Gatton
Captain 4A - Francis Raley
Captain 4B - Allen Raley
Lieutenant 4 - Jannet Keister
Lieutenant 4A - Scot Best
Lieutenant 4B - Rob Dodge
Lieutenant 4C - Charlie Russell
Health/Safety Officer 4 - Phil Cooper
Incident Safety Officer 4A- Tom Trossbach
Incident Safety Officer 4B- Philip "Heavy" Ridgell
Water Supply - Johnny Morrison
Chaplin - David Cullison
PIO/Fire Prevention – Scot Best
Chief Engineer - John "Peanut" Gatton
Engineer - Ron Hafner
Engineer - Darius Hawkins
Engineer - Charlie Langley
Engineer - Johnny Morrison
Engineer - Keith Raley
Engineer - John Ridgell
Engineer - Tony Ridgell
Engineer - Robbie Wood

2023 Auxiliary Officers
President - Debbie Fairfax
Vice President - Jessica Snyder
Recording Secretary - Darlene Wood
Corresponding Secretary - Lisa Gibbs
Treasurer - Dawn Gatton


After the swearing in of the Officers and dinner, the awards ceremony followed with acknowledgement of members’ achievements. Congratulations to the following 2022 award recipients:

President's Award: Bonnie Ridgell

Chief's Award: Francis Raley

Rookie of the Year: Robb Bickel

Engineer of the Year: Johnny Morrison

Firefighter of the Year: RJ Dodge

Life Saving Award: Scot Best, James Clark, Bradley Cooper, Johnny Morrison, Francis Raley, Heavy Ridgell

Joseph C. Titus Public Safety and Fire Prevention Award: Scot Best

Top 10 Responders (includes stand-by support):
1. Keith Raley (250 alarms)
2. Heavy Ridgell (245 alarms)
3. Scot Best (201 alarms)
4. Johnny Morrison (196 alarms)
5. Danny Gatton (194 alarms)
6. Francis Raley (182 alarms)
7. Ron Hafner (176 alarms)
8. Jimmy Cooper (174 alarms)
9. Tyler Gatton (159 alarms)
10. Brian Cooper (156 alarms)

Top Apparatus Responders (rode apparatus to the incident):
1. Danny Gatton (144 alarms)
2. Brian Cooper (114 alarms)
3. Scot Best / Keith Raley (111 alarms)
4. Ron Hafner (101 alarms)
5. Francis Raley (100 alarms)
6. Johnny Morrison (97 alarms)
7. Bradley Cooper (84 alarms)
8. John Keister (79 alarms)
9. Jannet Keister (73 alarms)
10. Robb Bickel (62 alarms)

Life Membership (25 years): Bradley Cooper, Ray Mercure

Length of Service Awards:
5 years: Chris Bender, Rob Dodge
10 years: JC Trossbach
15 years: Jordan Andrews, Mike Combs, Alex Pulliam, Paul Tennyson
25 years: Steve Bradburn
30 Years: Ron Hafner
40 Years: Howard Fenhagen, Bruce Raley, Mike Ridgell
45 Years: Bobby Balta, John “Peanut” Gatton
50 Years: Keith Raley
55 Years: George Gatton, Emerick Norris
70 Years: James Raley

Auxiliary Length of Service Award:
15 Years: Ashley Andrews, Bonnie Ridgell

Auxiliary Service Member Award: Tony & Cheryl Ridgell

Auxiliary Member of the Year: Jessica Snyder


Auxiliary President Debbie Fairfax and Vice President Jessica Snyder presented the Department with a check in the amount of $50,000, to be used towards stereo/sound system upgrades and the new boat lift.

The Officers and members of the Ridge VFD and Auxiliary would like to thank our Master of Ceremonies, Former St. Mary's County Commissioner Dan Raley for the laughs, Rita B Catering for the amazing food, DJ Wild Wes for the great tunes, and Mary Franklin for the great pictures. A special thanks to the members of Second District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad for covering our area during the installation.


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Ridge Volunteer Fire Department, Inc.
13820 Point Lookout Road
P.O. Box 520
Ridge, MD 20680
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