Ridge VFD and RVFD Auxiliary Celebrate 75th Annual Installation of Officers & Awards Banquet

RIDGE, Md. – On Saturday, February 25, 2023, the Ridge Volunteer Fire Department and the RVFD Auxiliary installed their 2023 Administrative and Operational Officers, and recognized several members for their contributions during 2022.

The year 2023 marks Ridge VFD’s 75th year of service to St. Mary’s County’s First District. During the banquet, a special 75th Anniversary book was presented to each member, showcasing pictural and written history of our service. In addition, a slide show of emergency calls, social events, and special moments from our past was played during. Special thanks to Keith Raley and the 75th Anniversary Committee for their hard work and the great trip down memory lane!

Philip “Heavy” Ridgell, Past President of the Southern Maryland Volunteer Firemen’s Association, swore in the Administrative Officers, Board of Directors, Operational Officers, and Engineers. Becky Wathen, Past President of the Ladies Auxiliary to the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, swore in the Auxiliary Officers.


2023 Board of Directors

Matt Ridgell

Scot Best

Bonnie Ridgell

Johnny Wathen

Brian Cooper

Philip “Heavy” Ridgell

Allen Raley

John Keister

Francis Raley

Rob Dodge

John “Peanut” Gatton

2023 Administrative Officers

President – Matt Ridgell

Vice President – Scot Best

Secretary – Bonnie Ridgell

Assistant Secretary – Carley Hadley

Treasurer – Johnny Wathen

2023 Operational Officers

Chief – Brian Cooper

Assistant Chief – John Keister

Deputy Chief – Bradley Cooper

Captain 4 – Danny Gatton

Captain 4A – Francis Raley

Captain 4B – Allen Raley

Lieutenant 4 – Jannet Keister

Lieutenant 4A – Scot Best

Lieutenant 4B – Rob Dodge

Lieutenant 4C – Charlie Russell

Health/Safety Officer 4 – Phil Cooper

Incident Safety Officer 4A- Tom Trossbach

Incident Safety Officer 4B- Philip “Heavy” Ridgell

Water Supply – Johnny Morrison

Chaplin – David Cullison

PIO/Fire Prevention – Scot Best

Chief Engineer – John “Peanut” Gatton

Engineer – Ron Hafner

Engineer – Darius Hawkins

Engineer – Charlie Langley

Engineer – Johnny Morrison

Engineer – Keith Raley

Engineer – John Ridgell

Engineer – Tony Ridgell

Engineer – Robbie Wood

2023 Auxiliary Officers

President – Debbie Fairfax

Vice President – Jessica Snyder

Recording Secretary – Darlene Wood

Corresponding Secretary – Lisa Gibbs

Treasurer – Dawn Gatton

After the swearing in of the Officers and dinner, the awards ceremony followed with acknowledgement of members’ achievements. Congratulations to the following 2022 award recipients:

President’s Award: Bonnie Ridgell

Chief’s Award: Francis Raley

Rookie of the Year: Robb Bickel

Engineer of the Year: Johnny Morrison

Firefighter of the Year: RJ Dodge

Life Saving Award: Scot Best, James Clark, Bradley Cooper, Johnny Morrison, Francis Raley, Heavy Ridgell

Joseph C. Titus Public Safety and Fire Prevention Award: Scot Best

Top 10 Responders (includes stand-by support):

1. Keith Raley (250 alarms)

2. Heavy Ridgell (245 alarms)

3. Scot Best (201 alarms)

4. Johnny Morrison (196 alarms)

5. Danny Gatton (194 alarms)

6. Francis Raley (182 alarms)

7. Ron Hafner (176 alarms)

8. Jimmy Cooper (174 alarms)

9. Tyler Gatton (159 alarms)

10. Brian Cooper (156 alarms)

Top Apparatus Responders (rode apparatus to the incident):

1. Danny Gatton (144 alarms)

2. Brian Cooper (114 alarms)

3. Scot Best / Keith Raley (111 alarms)

4. Ron Hafner (101 alarms)

5. Francis Raley (100 alarms)

6. Johnny Morrison (97 alarms)

7. Bradley Cooper (84 alarms)

8. John Keister (79 alarms)

9. Jannet Keister (73 alarms)

10. Robb Bickel (62 alarms)

Life Membership (25 years): Bradley Cooper, Ray Mercure

Length of Service Awards:

5 years: Chris Bender, Rob Dodge

10 years: JC Trossbach

15 years: Jordan Andrews, Mike Combs, Alex Pulliam, Paul Tennyson

25 years: Steve Bradburn

30 Years: Ron Hafner

40 Years: Howard Fenhagen, Bruce Raley, Mike Ridgell

45 Years: Bobby Balta, John “Peanut” Gatton

50 Years: Keith Raley

55 Years: George Gatton, Emerick Norris

70 Years: James Raley

Auxiliary Length of Service Award:

15 Years: Ashley Andrews, Bonnie Ridgell

Auxiliary Service Member Award: Tony & Cheryl Ridgell

Auxiliary Member of the year: Jessica Snyder

Auxiliary President Debbie Fairfax and Vice President Jessica Snyder presented the Department with a check in the amount of $50,000, to be used towards stereo/sound system upgrades and the new boat lift.

The Officers and members of the Ridge VFD and Auxiliary would like to thank our Master of Ceremonies, Former St. Mary’s County Commissioner Dan Raley for the laughs, Rita B Catering for the amazing food, DJ Wild Wes for the great tunes, and Mary Franklin for the great pictures. A special thanks to the members of Second District Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad for covering our area during the installation.

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