Twelve-year firefighter Grant Stephens, recently named Firefighter of the Year, said he just likes helping people.
“That may sound cliché, but it’s truly what we do,” said Stephens, 40. “It’s been a great short time,” he added, noting that careers in fire can last 30 years or longer.
“It fits myself and now my family very well,” he said.
Stephens, who is married with two daughters, 4 and 2, said service to others was a focal point for his family.
“As I’m raising a family, I want them to see how important it is to help others,” he said.
When an opportunity arises to help a charity or struggling family, Stephens said his mother and grandmother often attend.
“That’s the way our family has been,” he said, noting that his mother is close to her church.
Capt. Trey White, a Burbank firefighter for 14 years, said he and Stephens have been friends and co-workers for 12 years.
“Hands down, Grant is more than deserving of the award,” White said. ”He has single-handedly — well along with one other person — doubled the amount raised for MDA [Muscular Dystrophy Assn.].”
The amount firefighters have raised jumped dramatically, from $2,000 four years ago to about $21,000 last year and about $41,000 this year. White attributed the jump to Stephens, specifically his planning, organizing and vision.
Fire Capt. Peter Hendrickson called Stephens “aggressive in a good way” because of his willingness to teach other firefighters and keep others involved.
Hendrickson, who serves as the department’s spokesman, praised Stephens’ knowledge of hazardous materials. He also noted Stephens’ role as a mentor to new firefighters and to those in the Fire Academy.
If it were up to Stephens to pick a Firefighter of the Year, he said he would look for people who do their job, do it well and do the extra things.
He said his crew — Capt. Brad Royal and engineers John Owings and Jim Moye — also deserved the award.
Stephens said when the opportunity arose to be a liaison to MDA via his union, he jumped at it.
“I get everything going — the planning, organizing, all that’s entailed with raising money,” he said of his role. “It’s not just me, it’s the personnel we have [at] the Fire Department that have made it a success. Year over year we’re raising more money, and it’s definitely not me that’s doing it.”
But in the end, Stephens called his volunteer work selfish.
“I do it because it makes me feel good.”