Morgantown firefighter Andy Dotson wins statewide award

MORGANTOWN — If you ask Fireman Andy what pure joy looks like, he’ll tell you to watch kids interacting with a fire truck.
“Seeing their reaction is the fuel I need to keep coming back,” Andrew “Fireman Andy” Dotson, said.
Dotson, the Morgantown Fire Department’s fire prevention coordinator, received the West Virginia Fire & Life Safety Educator of the Year award last week. State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree presented Dotson with the award in Charleston during the West Virginia Public Safety Expo.
Dotson said receiving the award was humbling and made him happy. In his acceptance speech, Dotson said he made sure to thank the city fire department, because he couldn’t do what he does without its leadership and the support of his peers.
MFD Chief Mark Caravasos said Morgantown is lucky to have a professional and passionate person like Dotson.
When not working a regular 24-hour shift as part of a truck crew, Dotson is responsible for the MFD’s fire prevention and education efforts. Dotson said he teaches programs through organizations such as the National Fire Protection Association and U.S. Fire Administration, in addition to developing programs to meet the area’s specific challenges.
West Virginia, unfortunately, leads the nation in fire deaths per capita, Dotson said.
One program Dotson developed that could help combat that statistic — free home visits that include the free installation of smoke detectors if the house doesn’t have them. Volunteers from WVU and the Red Cross help with this program. For more information, text or call 304-906-5642 or email adotson@morgantownwv.gov.
Tail Board Tales is a program with a simple premise and a catchy name. Kids go to a firehouse where firefighters read to them from the back of a fire truck. Dotson said the program is meant to improve literacy rates.
Dotson has been a member of the MFD for 13 years and started teaching fire prevention in 2012.
“I had helped with the program while I wasn’t in charge,” he said. “I realized I enjoyed working with the kids and teaching fire safety and when the opportunity came up that they needed someone to take over I just jumped in.”

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