Captain Chris “Pudge” Cash awarded 2019 WNCAFF award
Captain Chris “Pudge” Cash with his 2019 Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters Career Chief Officer of the Year award. (photo by MEP/The Eagle)
by MICHAEL E. POWELL
Captain Chris Cash loves what he does and his fellow firefighters know it. They see his passion for the job and helping others on a daily basis, and even more so when he’s on a call.
Captain Cash, or “Pudge” as he’s known to his family and friends, is a humorous, but humble, low-key kind of guy, who goes about doing his job and not talking too much about it.
When he gets a slap on the back or an “attaboy!”, he smiles, says “thanks”, and gets right back to work.
So, when his Assistant Chief Jason Wofford nominated him for the prestigious 2019 Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters Career Chief Officer of the Year award, no one was more surprised than him to know he won it.
Assistant Chief Wofford, who won the same award in 2012, said there are 428 departments in the organization, so when Pudge’s winning of the 2019 Western North Carolina Association of Firefighters career Chief Officer of the Year award was announced recently at a meeting at Gaston College, after Wofford’s nomination several weeks ago, Pudge said quietly, “I was caught off guard by it.”
The award was presented to him at the Myers Center at the college on Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020, AFC Wofford noted.
Chris’ history with the Cherryville Fire Department, like that of his brother, City Manager and Fire Chief Jeff Cash, his nephews and son, and other relatives who have served with, or serve still, with either the CFD or other nearby departments, runs very deep. You could say that being a 'smoke eater’ is in their blood and they excel at it and helping others. Service to others before self is their middle name, and nothing makes Chris or his fellow firefighters happier than to be 'rushing in to help when others are rushing out of harm’s way’, as they like to say.
Chris noted he was the Cherryville department’s first junior firefighter, way back in 1983. He became a full-fledged fireman at the ripe old age of 18, he said, then went full-time at the department in 2000.
AFC Wofford said, “I nominated him for this because of many things, not the least of which was that he was our very first Junior Firefighter. Also, he is the top responder on our full-time staff!
“Captain Cash assists in so many duties, and he is so very deserving of the honor.”
Said Chris of the honor, “It is, of course, an honor to be selected for this award out of all the deserving officers.”
Captain Cash has moved up to the “B” shift, along with Driver/Engineer Barry Heavner, who has been with the department for 25 years.
“It’s my first day on this shift,” said Chris, smiling.
Like many of his peers, Cash said he keeps his awards and honors where he can see them. In his case, he said they reside on a shelf in his living room.
“It’s not just about the awards and honors though. I keep up with my fire training classes I need, as well as with my EMS certifications. All of that is with and through Gaston College.”
As for his nomination by his Assistant Chief, “Pudge” said, “I’m glad Jason took the time to nominate me. I always tell everybody I’m only as good as the people I work with. I work some great people!” he said.