Saturday, December 2, 2023

Southlake Firefighter Recieves "Firefighter of the Year" Award

Congratulations to Southlake Fire Lieutenant Marshall Urbanoksy for being selected “Firefighter of the Year” by the Rotary Club of Southlake.  On Saturday, members of the Rotary Club honored area firefighters, police officers and support personnel with its annual DPS Appreciation Celebration at the Town Square Gazebo. Christine Singh, chair of the event, said, “We are so grateful to our public safety officers and this is our chance to celebrate all of them.”

Fountain Place was filled with police officers, firefighters, kids and their families. The event featured free food and refreshments, live music, children’s activities, fire trucks and police vehicles which are always a favorite with the kids.

Assistant Fire Chief Wade Carroll who spoke at the Public Safety Celebration said it was an honor to recognize Lt. Urbanosky.  “The Southlake Fire Department, partnering with the Rotary Club of Southlake, has chosen Fire Lieutenant Marshall Urbanoksy for his exemplary leadership and public service.”  Wade recalled just a few of the reasons why Lt. Urbanosky was so deserving of this award.  Last June, he heard about a Dallas firefighter’s son Dyrk Burcie, who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and the Lieutenant did what he usually does; he found a way to show support.  Firefighters from all over the nation banded together to provide encouragement to Dyrk by finding clever ways to spell out the name “Dyrk” in firefighting equipment and posting it to a Facebook page set up for Dyrk to help cheer him up.  Lt. Urbanosky gathered his crew and spelled out Dyrk in fire hose, positioning apparatus around the name and took a picture of it from the top of the ladder truck.

Wade recalled several other times that Lt. Urbanosky went above and beyond. Just a few months ago his shift made a medical call at a residence in Southlake and noticed the homeowner was in desperate need of a wheelchair ramp.  Lt. Urbanosky and his crew didn’t hesitate to get to work.  He was able to get material donated by Home Depot; build the ramp and personally deliver it to the Southlake resident.  Also on April 23rd of this year a homeless person was dropped off at the fire station during Lt. Urbanosky’s his 24 hour shift. There was not a moment of hesitation to step up and help out once again. Lt. Urbanosky and his shift showed great compassion by making sure the woman had a hot meal, shelter and they all even pitched in money from their own pockets to assist her. Lt. Urbanosky also teamed up with the Southlake Police Department and our dispatch center to have the woman taken to a shelter in Arlington where she could have a safe place to stay. Wade added, as you can see, “Lt. Urbanosky’s leadership in the area of public service is contagious.”

Congratulations Lt. Marshall Urbanosky!  Thank you for all that you do and for the many people you inspire.

We would also like to thank the Rotary Club of Southlake and all of their many sponsors. The Rotary Club also awards thousands of dollars in scholarships each year to children of first responders and we are so very grateful for all that their members do for Southlake DPS.

World Class Bagpiper

World Bagpiping Championships, Lyon College, AR 2001 Scotland

It’s pretty remarkable for anyone to find something that they love to do and Robert’s love of playing the bagpipes started with a trip to the Bedford Boys Ranch when he was about ten years old, that’s where he first saw the North Texas Caladion Pipes and Drums playing.  He turned to his dad right then and there and said, “Dad, I want to learn how to play the bagpipes.”  His dad may have thought it was a passing fancy but Robert’s drive and determination proved that he was very serious.  He sought out the best instructors he could find and practiced for hours at a time. He laughs and says, “I know I drove my brother and family insane practicing non-stop sometimes.” But that is also why he’s one of the best!

McCallion speaks very highly about one of his teachers, Pipe Major Don Shannon from Dungannon, Northern Ireland.  “He really taught me everything I know and I give him a majority of the credit for any talent that I might have. I definitely look up to him as a mentor and I feel privileged that I was able to learn from him and now can also call him friend,” says McCallion. “The bagpipes have helped shape my life and helped me with the path I’ve chosen including landing a job as a firefighter,” he added. About 8 years after picking up the bagpipes he was asked to play at a funeral for the father of a Westlake Lieutenant. “He asked me how much I charged? “I said, nothing, but I would really appreciate it if you could help show me how I can become a firefighter.”

Lt. Kirk Gable said, “You’re in luck, we have an EMT training program that starts tomorrow in Weatherford and I’m the teacher.” McCallion signed up and completed that course and continued to work towards becoming a firefighter and play the bagpipes.  He was offered a full scholarship to Lyon College in Batesville, AR, one of the best known bagpiping schools in the U. S. Later he left Lyon to pursue a Bachelors degree in Business Administration at the University of North Texas, but that’s not all. He met his future wife Jenny at UNT. Southlake Firefighter Robert McCallion & his wife Jenny

McCallion really means it when he says, “I can attribute everything I have through playing the bagpipes. It gave me every opportunity and led me to everything I wanted in life, travel to the UK, my career as a firefighter and my wife Jenny.  What more could I ask for,” said McCallion.  Well for starters he and Jenny are expecting a son in August and they have already picked out a name, Liam Seamus.

McCallion gets a big grin on his face as he talks about his son. You can see the pride welling up in him and not a lot compares to that.    But he says he feels so fortunate for all that he has. He has a lot of great memories playing the bagpipes in World Class competitions in Scotland and the United Kingdom; being hand-picked by bagpipe bands to play in places that he thought he would never get to see; not to mention the thrill of taking top honors in many competitions in Scotland. McCallion says, “The bagpipes can take you on such an incredible journey, it’s been phenomenal.” 

McCallion says, “locally, the circle of bagpipers is small, but we are like one big family and my friends across the pond are part of my extended family. And of then, of course, there’s my firefighting family.”