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City Honors Public Servants

Firefighters and a Fairfax City police officer are honored with public-safety awards.

Four Fairfax City public servants were recently recognized by the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce for their extraordinary service to the community during 2002. The three firefighters and one police officer received their public-safety awards during an April 10 breakfast at the Fairfax City fire station hall.

"[They] made some special contributions," said Fire Chief Gary Mesaris of the awardees.

COL. RICK RAPPOPORT, the City of Fairfax police chief, gave Detective Edward C. Vaughan the 2002 Police Officer of the Year award. Vaughan, an 18-year veteran of the city police force, received the award for his efforts in solving a complicated identity theft and fraud case that included the District of Columbia and all surrounding counties. The case, which spanned from August 2001 to winter 2003, involved persons stealing money from bank accounts using false IDs, with personal information taken from supermarket savings card applications. The case also involved seven homicides and utilized FBI and Secret Service law enforcement as well as officers from all the local jurisdictions.

"I'm honored to have gotten it. For me, it's a big deal," said Vaughan on the award, adding that his peers select the awardee.

FireMedic Jason Kezele was awarded the Certificate of Valor by Mesaris. Kezele, who has worked with Fairfax since January 2001, stopped an unattended vehicle from rolling down the street.

Assistant Fire Chief Dave Bryson received the 2002 Volunteer Firefighter of the Year award. Bryson was recognized for his commitment to the department. He made himself available to fill leave slots, completed a rescue engine certification program and has the versatility to ride as a suppression officer or firefighter. He also reorganized the volunteer training requirements. Bryson, who lives in Chantilly and works as a highway safety specialist for the National Highway Transportation Safety Association, joined the fire department in 1989.

The 2002 Career Firefighter/Paramedic of the Year award was given to Capt. John Ahrens. Ahrens introduced Geographic Information System (GIS) software to the fire department, which allows the department to respond better to emergencies. Ahrens was also awarded a Life Saving Award for resuscitating a man who had a heart attack in a restaurant parking lot. Ahrens, a 20-year veteran of the fire department, lives in Manassas.

THIS IS THE 20TH YEAR that the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce has given city police officers and firefighters public-safety awards. The Chamber gives the awards to recognize the daily service they provide to the community.

"They don't get enough credit for what they do," said Claire Luke, the Chamber's executive director and chief operating officer.