Smith County Fire Marshal Connie McCoy-Wasson was surprised and humbled to receive the J.B. Smith Award for Service recently from the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors.
At the 24th annual First Responders Appreciation Dinner, held Nov. 15 at the Tyler Rose Garden, McCoy-Wasson was shocked when her brother, Tyler Police Officer Wayne Thomas, presented her with the award.
“I never would have dreamed in a million years that I would ever receive this award,” McCoy-Wasson said. She was humbled that her staff at the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office nominated her for the award, and she was surprised that her entire family showed up to the event, she said.
The award winner is nominated each year by fellow first responders in the Greater Tyler Association of Realtors’ jurisdiction, which includes Smith, Wood, Cherokee and Franklin counties.
The recipient must have a minimum of 20 years of experience, exceptional performance throughout their career, make a positive impact on their community and conduct herself in a professional manner, always treating individuals with respect and dignity.
Recipients must also exhibit leadership and provide inspiration to others and must have demonstrated characteristics of public service and professional achievement.
GTAR’s Community Service Committee reviews the nominations and selects the winner.
McCoy-Wasson said the award is not something one person wins on their own. “It is who you work with that makes you who you are,” she said, crediting her entire staff for receiving the award.
She said the award was even more special to her because it was presented to her by her brother, who started working for the Tyler Police Department around the same time she started working for the Smith County Fire Marshal’s Office 25 years ago.
In 2015, Mrs. McCoy-Wasson became the first female to serve as Smith County Fire Marshal. At the time, she had more than 20 years of experience as a deputy fire marshal for Smith County and had served as interim fire marshal.
McCoy-Wasson was hired as a secretary by Charles Shine, Smith County’s first Fire Marshal.
She soon started to go to fires with him and realized she wanted to learn how to become a firefighter. McCoy-Wasson went to school and earned her certifications to become a firefighter, investigator and inspector, as well as earning her peace officer license.
She also serves as Smith County’s Emergency Management Coordinator, and is the Local Emergency Planning Committee Chairwoman for Smith County.