Noah Day had a big 45 days.
On May 5 of this year he was named North East Fire Company's Rookie of the Year for 2017. June 5 he earned a diploma from Cecil County School of Technology's Fire Science program. June 7 he graduated from North East High School. On June 19 he was named the recipient of C. Oscar Baker Rookie of the Year award by the Maryland State Firemen's Association in Ocean City.
Past NEFC Chief Mike Penhollow nominated Day for the award. Noah's father Shawn, who is president of NEFC, said he knew his son won the award in May, but worked to keep it a secret for a month.
"I am absolutely proud. He had a lot of adversity in his life at a young age and some of that was beyond his control," said Shawn Day.
"I'm following in my dad's footsteps. He left it up to me whether I wanted to join (the fire company). I joined because I wanted to help people," Noah said. "I feel privileged. It's something you have to earn. I put a lot of time and effort into it."
Noah has collected numerous certifications since joining the fire company when he was 16. He passed many courses for firefighting, emergency medical services, Hazmat, leadership and others. Within the fire company, he attended additional training there and volunteered for details such as clean up, banquet hall set up, and others. He is a top responder for both fire and EMS.
He is also a volunteer with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources Forest Service. He rides his bicycle to the fire house and while responding he found a smoldering bucket in his path and reported it. That bucket was determined to be part of a mobile meth lab and resulted in a multi-agency investigation. He was also honored at Cecil's second annual First Responders dinner last fall.
"Noah continues to demonstrate a can do spirit and his sustained commitment to the mission accomplishment of and upholding the traditions of the North East Volunteer Fire Company, Inc. Having earned respect of his fellow members he encourages them to do the same," wrote Chief Penhollow in the nomination letter.
Noah said he feels honored to have received the award. And regrets missing a minute of his big night.
"I was on my phone. I walked on the stage and was there for 30 seconds before I realized. I've heard of the award but didn't think I'd win it," he said.
Shawn Day, who is a single father of three, got his son to the awards ceremony by telling Noah he was going to escort families of fallen firefighters to a memorial service.
Noah's brother Dylan, 20, is a captain with NEFC. Noah's sister, Emily, 16, will likely join the fire company in the emergency medical services realm.
"I didn't push any of them into it. I encouraged the boys not to join because of the politics," said Shawn Day.
"I knew he won it in May. The way I looked at it was that it was a significant honor. Mr. Baker was there (at the ceremony). He is 93. He is a jack of all trades in the fire service and is still leading," said Shawn Day. "It is a big deal. I wanted him to go into it (not knowing he'd won). His brother and sister knew, and the nominators knew.
Noah Day said he doesn't know how he can top his last month and a half. He wants to be a career firefighter but will remain a volunteer. "The next thing I'll try for is firefighter of the year." he said.
Unknown to any of them, Shawn Day was also nominated for a prestigious state award. Chief Penhollow nominated Shawn for the State Fireman's Association Firefighter of the Year award. He has been active with the fire company since 1995. He has served in many capacities including on the board of director, president, assistant chief, fire captain, safety officer and more.
He has also helped write grants and has served on numerous fundraising and equipment committees.
Shawn Day was also named Firefighter of the Year for the company in May. "I don't need accolades for what I do. That day wasn't about me. It was about my son. That is a once in a lifetime recognition," he said. "I'm happy I was recognized but this is all about him."
The North East Fire Company will house the huge trophy for Noah Day's award for a year.