CONYERS — Rockdale County Fire Rescue celebrated the naming of Firefighter Donis Hodges as the Georgia State Firefighters Association Rookie of the Year. The presentation came at the Board of Commissioners’ meeting Tuesday morning.

“I am pleased to present to Rockdale County Relief Driver Donis Hodges the Rookie Firefighter of the Year award from the Georgia State Firefighters’ Association,” said Fire Chief Dan Morgan. “This award is open to firefighters with less than three years of service. Hodges was hired in 2018 by RCFR. In 2019, he was called upon to become the Recruit Class coordinator. He showed leadership and dedication in this assignment and greatly assisted RCFR in the training of this group of recruits. We are grateful to have firefighters of his caliber in RCFR.”

Hodges received a standing ovation from his fellow firefighters and the audience as he was awarded the plaque from BOC Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr.

“It is really promising that we have a young group of firefighters who have come along in the ranks and been trained by the senior staff, and we have folks who are already exhibiting leadership skills,” said Nesbitt. “This speaks volumes for the level of fire service we have here in Rockdale County.”

Hodges was promoted into the training position last February following the tragic death of Firefighter Robert Sewell in an automobile accident.

After the ceremony Tuesday, Hodges said it is an overwhelming feeling to receive the award, but that it really belongs to the entire department.

“The only problem is it doesn’t recognize everybody else that contributed to this, from the training department, to Chief Mac (Deputy Fire Chief of Administration Marian McDaniel), who was crazy enough to deal with me when we first met, to Station 9, B Shift specifically, to Capt. (Nicholas) Oliveri, who handles HazMat,” he said. “It is just the totality of what we’re capable of as a unit.

“Although I received the award, the award is really for the county. I’m just a small piece of the puzzle, and I’m happy to be that piece. It is going to look good. It is something I’ll love telling my son about.”

Hodges grew up in Stone Mountain and said during high school he was also coming to Rockdale County to go to the movies and other things. One of six boys in his family, Hodges said he started out in the family business, but decided he wanted to do something different.

“I love people, I love helping people, and I’m a bit of an adrenaline junkie, too, so this kind of falls in line with that,” said Hodges. “So when I heard they were having a job fair, I said let’s go give it a shot. We gave it a shot and it worked really well, and I’m looking forward to a budding career here.”

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.