Retired Davidson Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald Awarded Top Honor in NC The Order of the Long Leaf Pine
The Town of Davidson is proud to announce that Retired Fire Chief Reuben “Bo” Fitzgerald has been awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine, one of the most prestigious awards presented at the discretion of the Governor of North Carolina. Originating in 1963, the award recognizes individuals for service to the state and their communities that is above and beyond the call of duty and which has made a significant impact and strengthened North Carolina.
While Bo is quick to crack a joke, his dedication to public service runs deep, making him a quintessential team player. Despite his dozens of accolades and contributions to the Town of Davidson, Bo’s modesty shows through as he quickly points to all the other people who helped make things happen. Despite his desire to retire from the department quietly, the whole town surprised him with a COVID-19 compliant parade through the Davidson College campus as a gesture of thanks and love.
Bo retired from the Davidson Fire Department effective November 28, 2020 with over twenty-three years of dedicated service; however, he was invited to attend the virtual January 12, 2021 board of of commissioners meeting where he learned of this honor.
“This is a tremendous and unexpected honor that speaks more to a collective effort by a lot of people than anything that I did,” said Bo. “I have been blessed with unwavering support from the town, its leaders and staff, and a group of firefighters who are second to none. They deserve as much, if not more, credit than I.”
Among Bo’s many accomplishments, it is noteworthy that he:
- Began fire service career with Davidson Fire Department on March 10, 1997 as a student with Davidson College
- Elected as the volunteer fire chief in 2006
- In 2007, under his watch, the town hired the initial (12) part-time firefighters that would help to provide service coverage to the fire district
- Stepped down as volunteer fire chief in 2009 to focus on family and fulltime career development with the Charlotte Fire Department. He remained as a member and served at the Captain rank overseeing the department’s Training Division.
- In July of 2015, he was hired by Town Manager Leamon Brice to serve as the town’s first Fire Chief that would report directly to the Town Manager.
- Under his watch as Fire Chief from July 2015 until November 2020 the department reached these benchmarks:
- The department hired (6) fulltime Firefighter/Engineer positions in 2017
- Fire Station 2 opened for service in June of 2018 providing fire and EMS coverage to the citizens of East Davidson
- The department hired (3) full-time Battalion Chief’s in December of 2019 to increase the daily staffing to (8) personnel
- Lowered the ISO rating from 5 to 2 in the town and 9 to 3 in the North Star District in the Spring of 2020
Nominees must be retiring individuals who have decades of service in the State of North Carolina. Submissions include a biography of the nominee as well as letters of recommendation and a statement of service. The qualifications criteria for membership in The Order of the Long Leaf Pine are within the sole discretion of the sitting Governor. Records do signal that the process for nominating and evaluating candidates has become increasingly stringent, further solidifying its reputation as among the most prestigious awards presented by the Governor of North Carolina. Retired Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald joins a long line of prestigious and dedicated individuals who have served North Carolina.
Town Manager Jamie Justice noted “it was so gratifying to be able to announce this honor for Bo. He has given so many years of dedicated and distinguished service to the Town of Davidson, really going above and beyond the call of duty to help build the fire department from the ground up and lead it to excellence. We are honored to have had Bo as a member of our staff and will continue to value him as a member of our community moving forward.”