Captain Drake Award
AFA awards firefighters whose achievement in the fire service provides and example of the dedication to service and training that was so personified in Captain Drake.
The awards committee shall review each nominee. The committee will vote for the recipient of the Captain Drake Award by majority vote. If there is a tie that cannot be broken the Association President will cast the ti breaking vote.
All nomination forms must be post marked by May 1st of each year to be considered. The nominating person shall receive confirmation that the application was received.
The award will be presented at the Annual Conference each year. The submitting person and the recipient of the Captain Drake Award will be notified prior to the convention in an effort for them to make arrangements to attend the conference.
Who is Captain Drake? (Written by his loving daughter!)
February 4, 1909, my father, John Franklin Drake, entered this world and would later become what he dreamed of becoming… a proud firefighter who would be known as Captain Drake. He knew his stuff and learned it the hard way, which is by doing. To him, that was the only way because the “books were wrong.” Unless you had actually endured the heat of battle with that unpredictable enemy known as fire, you could not effectively deal with the situation.
He often called it the most dangerous job in the world and many times after saying this he finally retired. I heard him say, “I loved my job.” I’m sure others would have begged to differ with his opinion of the job danger, until September 11, 2001. The day of the most violent attack on American soil that would cost 343 firefighters their lives while trying to save others. If he had still be in active service at that time, and been in New York City, I can assure he would have been leading the charge up those stairs of the World Trade Center. That’s just the way he was.
His career started during the depression and my mom said that he would “hang out” at the fire department because of his fascination with that profession until he finally got the opportunity to become on of them. He worked his way up the ranks but was always directly involved with fighting fire. He was the “general” who not only gave orders, but lead others into danger for the good of the misfortunate. I remember him telling of a child he saved from a burning house and directly the efforts to contain a chemical spill that could have easily exploded. He didn’t brag about those episodes. He just talked about them as casually as one might talk about buying groceries. I never really truly comprehended the danger. He just loved what he did. He loved the job so much that when he retired from the City of Birmingham, after 34 years of service, he took a position with the Alabama Fire College, training firefighters all over the state in the paid and volunteer ranks. He held this position for an additional 12 years and received commendations, plaques and letters from various departments throughout the state. When he finally retired from that venture, he continued his love of firefighting, by selling fire trucks for Harless Fire Equipment Company all over the state. He loved to take clients to Appleton, Wisconsin to actually see the Pierce factory where trucks were build. Those he advised, trusted him, because they knew “he knew his stuff!”
In 1999, the Alabama Firefighters Association established the Captain Drake Award to be given annually for exemplary performance as a firefighter. Captain Drake was given the first away in 1999. Captain Drake passed away July 14, 2000 at the age of 91. He outlive many of his contemporaries and I think he would have been happiest if he could have continued to fight fires until that day. Of course, age puts final limitations on all of us.
Page Last Updated: Feb 34, 2022 (20:22:00)