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Grantsburg Fire Chief Honored as 2023 First Responder of the Year

Quick actions and selfless bravery during an incident in July have led Cory Barnette, Grantsburg’s Fire Chief, to be honored as a 2023 First Responder of the Year.

On July 2, members of the Grantsburg Fire Department were debriefing following a call when a man was spotted, passed out in front of the fire hall. Through the course of trying to assist, the suspect pointed a gun at the responders.

Barnette, a former member of law enforcement and Marines, worked to disarm the man.

"With me and my background, my main concern was the other five that were inside the fire hall. I'm the only one that's dealt with people coming at you with firearms or with the intent to possibly harm somebody else, so it just was a natural reaction for me," Barnette told WCMP. "This is what I need to do, and I will find a way to get it done."

The suspect was later arrested and is facing several charges, including second-degree recklessly endangering safety and intentionally pointing a firearm at law enforcement.

Barnette has served as the Grantsburg Fire Chief for the past eight years. He joined the fire department at the request of a friend.

"We had a July 4th storm around 2010 or 2011. One of my friends came out to fill water for our horses because we had no power. He kinda convinced me to get into the volunteer side. A few years after that, it turned into a full-time job as the local fire inspector. Then a few years after that, the Chief retired and the guys were like, 'You are here full time anyway, so congratulations,'" Barnette said.

On Oct. 26 at 5:30 p.m. in the Grantsburg Fire Hall, Barnette will be honored by Wisconsin Representative Angie Sapik as a 2023 First Responder of the Year.

In a release, Rep. Sapik commended Barnette for his selfless heroism.

"Chief Barnette’s leadership within the Grantsburg Fire Department is commendable, and his unwavering dedication sets a remarkable example for all first responders. He is an outstanding leader and a role model for those who aspire to serve their community with integrity and bravery"

Barnette says he is not one for fame or glory. "I'm not one that likes recognition, so it's kind of a catch-22. Yes, it is an honor that I got it and was recognized for it by a lot of people," Barnette said. "I just did my job. I did what had to be done at the time it needed to be done."

Barnette’s actions during the standoff also earned him a commendation from the Burnett County Sheriff’s Office in August.

You can listen to WCMP's interview with Cory Barnette over on the Q-Media On Demand Podcast.

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