MAYFLOWER — When asked to describe what type of person would be a hero, Keeton Woods immediately thought of his father. The Mayflower fire chief was also honored for his dedicated service Tuesday evening by Mayor Randy Holland.
Fire Chief Josh Woods listened with tears in his eyes as Barbra Mathes, the city’s chief of staff, read aloud a literacy assignment his son recently featured him in.
Keeton said the sacrifices his father makes for others makes him a heroic person.
“My hero is my dad,” Keeton wrote. “My dad is my hero because he teaches me to do all kinds of things. My dad is also a firefighter. My dad is a hero to me because he fights fires and saves lives.”
Holland presented Josh with the Mayor’s Impact Award during Tuesday’s regularly-scheduled city council meeting.
The fire chief has proven himself to be a hard-working, dedicated public servant, Holland said.
Before taking over as Mayflower fire chief, Josh served other communities for several years. He was a full-time firefighter for the Maumelle Fire Department from 2004-2012. His career with MFD overlapped his full-time firefighting career at the Sherwood Fire Department (2002-2016). Josh became a volunteer firefighter for Mayflower in 2015 and took over as fire chief in 2016.
His involvement within the city doesn’t end there.
Josh is also a member of Mayflower’s Youth Sports Association Board, the assistant park director and a member of Mayflower First Baptist Church.
The fire chief leaves powerful impressions on the city’s youth and builds strong relationships with local baseball players and their families.
“We have watched Josh work in and for our community for several years now. We are thankful for his love, compassion and dedication to our community,” residents James and Sheila Sowell said of the fire chief. “We are also thankful that Josh has a true heart to help others. We have had the pleasure of having Josh to coach our grandson in baseball for the last six or seven years now. We have watched Josh work long hard hours for our community, then hit the field with these guys and never miss a beat, all while knowing that he would head back to work after practice.”
Resident Sabrena Thacker said she was thankful the city has a fire chief who genuinely cares for the residents, even when off duty. She shared a memory from September 2019 where Josh was called out to a medical emergency concerning her father. Though she was hysterical, the fire chief “still knew what to say to me to gather my thoughts.”
“Josh was so thorough, respectful and yet so kind that my father still talks about that nice first responder man,” Thacker wrote of her family’s experience with Josh.
A few weeks after the incident, Thacker said she ran into Josh while he was out with his family.
“He was with his family and he still took the time to ask how my father was. Josh could have mentally checked that box that day and moved on, but he went the extra mile. That’s the kind of leader Josh is,” she said. “I hope our community understands how truly blessed we are to have a man of service that passionately leads and serves our town so graciously. I will never be able to repay him or let him know how thankful I was for him to answer the call on a chilly, September morning in Mayflower.”
Those who work alongside him said he deserved the honor and that he is always prepared.
Jodi Meyskens, a local paramedic, said she is always relieved when she sees his burgundy SUV pull up to a scene.
“Josh is one of the best. I have always enjoyed working with him,” she said. “I see him daily representing his community, his family, his brothers and sisters at the fire department and the ambulance personnel that respond to his community. Day in, day out, 365 days a year and twice on Sunday.”
The city’s chief of staff also recognized the fire chief’s family Tuesday evening.
“I know it’s not easy when a meal or a family function gets interrupted or you are awakened in the middle of the night when Josh gets the call,” Mathes said to Josh’s wife, Dena, and the couple’s children, Keeton and Kenzie. “Just know you are appreciated also.”