A Newport News Firefighter has been named the 2021 Virginia Firefighter of the Year as part of the Governor’s Awards for Fire Service
Lt. Andrew Zysk was presented the award last week during the annual Virginia Fire Rescue Conference. He earned the award as a fire department instructor.
“I didn’t expect it. I enjoyed my time in training,” he said. He was nominated by fellow instructors Jon Tiller and Marcus Drew who are also passionate about proper training, he added.
Zysk said the hardest part of being a firefighter is lack of sleep and the need to constantly train.
Firefighting is more than just putting out fires in recent years, he said.
“There is haz mat, tactical rescues and learning daily. Every time you think you know what you’re doing, you learn something. And you never know when a new call is going to humble you,” Zysk said.
A humbling moment for Zysk was when he was going into a home to put out a fire, and he fell off the small porch.
Lt. Zysk has been a member of NNFD since 2011 and is now assigned to Station 9 in Denbigh.
His nomination reads, in part: “Colleagues say there is no finer training officer and no person of higher character than Lieutenant Andrew Zysk. His passion for physical fitness inspires his students to dedicate themselves to become stronger firefighters, and it shows as they progress through the academy.” With an open-door policy, recruits in the fire academy find him easy to approach for advice or guidance, and is an example of the holistic manner in which he helps them deal with the stress and hardship of the program. Outside of his work as a training officer for the Newport News Fire Department, every year he participates in a camp for children who have received burns in house fires.
“Lt. Zysk is an outstanding firefighter and trainer and is most deserving of this recognition,” said Newport News Fire Chief Jeff Johnson. “He is a true leader, and we are fortunate to have him as part of the team that trains our newest firefighters.”
The Governor’s Fire Service Awards were established in 2002 to recognize and honor excellence in Virginia’s fire services.
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