By JB Clark
VERONA – Wally Bruce’s bravery and dedication was rewarded recently with the firefighter of the year honors from the Mississippi Burn Foundation.
The assistant fire chief for the Palmetto/Old Union Volunteer Fire Department has almost fully recovered from injuries sustained while responding to an early morning fire July 6.
And he said he is eager to get back to work fighting fires in the Palmetto community, Saltillo and Tupelo.
“I’m definitely going back as soon as I get well,” he said. “The doctor says it will be another three to six weeks before he releases me.”
After entering the front door of the old Malone’s Fish and Steakhouse early July 6, Bruce was knocked down by a heat wave. He was treated for first-, second- and third-degree burns on his calves, the top of his head, back of his neck, ears and one finger.
His son, Bryan Bruce, along with Verona Fire Department Assistant Chief Charles Smith and firefighter Brooks Green, pulled him from the fire that morning.
Palmetto/Old Union Fire Chief Bobby Briley said he was honored to have his assistant chief and fire department recognized with such a high honor.
“We all hate that it happened to him, but to receive this award means a lot to me personally and to the rest of the department,” Briley said.
Bruce said he is honored to be recognized but is happier to be able to go to work every day as a firefighter.
“This is my first time to receive something like this and it’s an honor to receive something like this, but again, I’m just doing my job,” he said. “I don’t look at it as being a hero, it’s my job and that’s what I get paid and volunteer to do. I’m a career firefighter.”
Bruce was presented the firefighter of the year award earlier this month at the Mississippi Burn Foundation’s awards dinner in Brandon.
He was chosen from a group of firefighters nominated from across the state.