Alabaster boy becomes honorary Alabama Fire College graduate

Alabaster resident Joey Paulin, 6, became the youngest graduate in the history of the Alabama Fire College June 4, as he was awarded an honorary graduate certificate during a special ceremony at the Tuscaloosa institution.

Paulin was born in April 2004 with mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, a rare and terminal illness that prevents the boy from walking, talking, sitting or standing.

Paulin’s mother, Roseanna, said the she never expected the fire college to do something of this magnitude, and she was overwhelmed by the ceremony.

“There wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” Roseanna said. “What a day.”

The event was organized by AFC Capt. Curtis Poe and his wife, Summer, who is a firefighter in Birmingham.

Curtis and Summer had heard about Joey and the pair decided to do something special.

“Alabaster made Joey Alabaster’s ‘littlest firefighter,’ so I decided we needed to make Joey Alabama’s ‘littlest firefighter,’” Curtis said. “He shows a tremendous amount of spirit and determination.”

During the ceremony, Paulin received his certificate, a pin from Alabaster City Council member Bob Hicks and a fire helmet from the Fort Hood (Texas) Fire Department.

“Who would have thought Joey would have graduated from anywhere, much less college?” Roseanna said. “People have done so much for Joey, and there aren’t enough words to convey how much that means to me.

“I’m so blessed that he’s touched so many lives,” she added.