February 10, 2023

Meet Vincent Smith, Virginia Beach’s Firefighter of the Year

Vince shares what makes Virginia Beach his best job yet.


“There's a lot about firefighting that makes it different from other jobs,” said Virginia Beach Master Firefighter Vincent G. Smith. “You never know what you're getting into.”

Firefighter Vince Smith

Considering he didn’t grow up wanting to be a firefighter, Vince didn’t know what he was getting into either when a buddy talked him into volunteering at a fire department near his home in Northern Virginia. “The more I hung around the station where we ran calls, the more I got hooked,” he said.

When a structural collapse course brought Vince to Virginia Beach’s training center, the department’s facilities and robust menu of opportunities caught his attention. “I thought that if I ever had a chance to come down here, I'd want to be a part of the Virginia Beach Fire Department.”

For Vince, the quality of the training he attended was a big draw to serve here. “We have people coming from all over the country to Virginia Beach, and it’s because of our top-notch training and really good instructors,” he said.

The variety of fire and rescue specialties also appealed to him. “Virginia Beach is a fairly large department,” he said. “You can join the marine team. You could be part of the technical rescue team, part of the hazmat team. We have jet skis and fire boats. Just a lot of opportunities.”

Firefighter Vince Smith Running

In addition to so many training options, Vince said the unpredictable nature of responding to emergencies is what makes firefighting so unique.

“If someone's having an emergency, they call 911, and they expect us to show up and be able to handle anything they're dealing with,” he said. “We can find ourselves running into a burning building or doing CPR on someone in cardiac arrest. It could be doing a technical rescue, rescuing someone from a confined space, hanging from ropes, a hazmat call or working together with other agencies.”

Vince said staying sharp enough to respond to so many different emergencies requires continual training. “We're constantly practicing, putting out fires, working with our gear, doing ropes and knots for a technical rescue,” he said.

Firefighter Vince Smith Holding Poster

Staying in top physical condition is not only crucial to the job, it’s also what Vince enjoys doing in his down time. “I tend to do a lot of running on the beach, and there's a lot of fun places for that in Virginia Beach,” he said. “It’s a good place to get exercise.”

In late October 2022, Vince was selected as Virginia Beach Fire Department's 2022 Firefighter of the Year. His supervisor, Fire Captain Josh Xenakis, said Vince’s strong work ethic earned him the nomination.

“Vince is a hard worker. He never complains. He’s very humble. He brings everybody up around him,” Josh said. “He’s a solid guy to have on your team.”

After nine years serving with the Virginia Beach Fire Department and currently on the hazmat team, Vince is especially fond of the camaraderie he shares at Station 3. “We’re here for 24 hours at a time. So you get really close. It's almost like a second family.”

“But when the bells drop, that's when everyone switches gears and gets ready to go,” Vince said. “It’s just an exciting job.”

Best Job Yet

Find your best job yet. Check out current employment opportunities with the City of Virginia Beach at http://www.vbgovcareers.com/.

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Virginia Beach Fire Administration

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