Huntington Fire Department promotes five in rank

September 8, 2018
Newly promoted firefighters Lt. Chris Mellert, from left, Lt. Timothy Burns, Capt. J.D. Meade and Deputy Chief Ray Canafax are pictured after a Huntington Fire Department promotional ceremony on Friday at Huntington City Hall.

HUNTINGTON — Huntington Fire Department Chief Jan Rader promoted five firefighters, including a third-generation firefighter and a new deputy chief, in rank during a ceremony at City Hall on Friday.

Rader was joined by Mayor Steve Williams, who swore the five firefighters into their new positions effective immediately. Members of the firefighters’ families took turns placing the new ranking pins onto their uniforms.

“You see these firefighters thrive in the rank they are in for years, so it’s always great to get an opportunity to grow,” Rader said. “They are the future of the fire department.”

Capt. Ray Canafax, who began with the department in September 1999, has been promoted to the rank of deputy chief.

Rader said Canafax showed off his leadership capabilities throughout the years, leaving “no doubt he would move up the ranks quickly.”

move the department forward in a progressive manner, Rader said.

Lt. Dominick Fraley, hired in January 2006, was promoted to the rank of captain. Rader was one of Fraley’s training officers, learning of his early aptitude for leadership from the beginning.

“He has proven himself to be just that,” she said.

Lt. James “J.D.” Meade, who was hired in January 2004, was promoted to captain. Rader said Meade began his career quietly in the training academy, but his intelligence shined through when he would quote lines from “War and Peace.”

Timothy Burns, hired as a private in September 2008, was promoted to a lieutenant position. Rader said Burns spent the majority of his career as a fire apparatus operator, a position requiring him to drive the fire truck and then position the hoses and pumps in the most efficient places.

“That is one of the most important jobs on an emergency scene,” Rader said.

She hopes Burns will train his replacement to be as good in the position as he was, she said.

Christopher Mellert, a private hired in September 2008, was also promoted to lieutenant. Mellert is a third-generation firefighter, Rader said, hailing from a family dedicated to serving the community.

“I had the pleasure of serving in my career beside his grandfather, Fred Mellert, and his father, Scot Mellert,” she said.

Christopher Mellert’s grandfather on his mother’s side, Jim Hanshaw, also worked as a Huntington firefighter before retiring in 1991. Rader said fire service is steeped in tradition so it’s always special when a firefighter’s son or daughter follows in their footsteps.

One of the many young family members who came to watch the promotion ceremony Friday could end up in the fire service one day, she said.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.