Anyone who is willing to run into a burning building deserves praise, especially one who served as long as John Branch did.

The former Polk County Fire Department volunteer and two-time chief recently passed away at the age of 63 in late October, and the Polk County Board of Commissioners stepped up to show their thanks for all that he did during a long career helping others.

In a unanimous vote, Commissioners passed a proclamation honoring Branch, and provided copies to Branch’s sons John Ross and Sam, who came to thank the board for their show of support on behalf of the rest of their family, including their mother Beth.

“On behalf of our family, we want to thank the Polk County Board of Commissioners for recognizing our father and his service to the fire department,” Sam Branch said. “Daddy spent a lot of years waking up in the middle of the night and running out of family dinners to run into burning buildings. He didn’t do it for a paycheck or an award.”

“He simply did it because it needed to be done. We thank you all for your continued support and your prayers as we continue to cope with daddy’s passing. It means the world to us that his service and sacrificed didn’t go unnoticed,” Branch added.

A 20-year veteran of the Polk County Water Authority, Branch also spent additional time in service as both a volunteer firefighter and Chief of the department from 1997 to 2001, and then a second time from 2007 until his retirement in 2001.

He also served as training officer for all of Polk County Fire for several years in the early 1990’s, and Branch was for many years the chief at Fire Station 1, known as Blooming Grove.

Funeral services celebrating Branch’s life were held on Nov. 2. Those who want to leave remembrances for the family can find his obituary online at gammagefh.com.

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