The Department of Defense (DOD) announced the recipients of the 2020 DOD Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) Awards for outstanding accomplishments of its fire departments, fire officers, and firefighters. DOD F&ES Working Group representatives from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency selected nine winners from 39 nominations.
“The DOD Fire and Emergency Services community is on duty 24 hours a day risking their lives to ensure the safety of military personnel, their families, and the public,” said Paul D. Cramer, Performing the Duties of Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment. “Their extraordinary efforts to promote excellence in emergency response, public outreach, training and education, compliance and enforcement, and program management are vital to DOD’s ability to successfully carry out its mission.”
Each year, three of DOD’s most outstanding fire departments receive recognition for achieving the highest degree of excellence in mission support and fire protection management. DOD’s best fire prevention program receives an award based on its depth and breadth, effectiveness, educational value, and thoroughness in direct support of the organization’s mission. One military firefighter and one civilian firefighter each receive an award for their superior job performance and outstanding contributions to a DOD F&ES organization. One military fire officer and one civilian fire officer each receive an award for their superior job performance, outstanding contributions, and leadership to a DOD F&ES organization. In addition, one fire service instructor receives an award for superior job performance and outstanding contributions to a DOD F&ES organization as an instructor.
Highlights of each winner’s 2020 achievements demonstrating their selfless dedication to duty and their unwavering commitment to ensure DOD’s mission readiness and success are below:
- Fire Department of the Year, Small Category: Naval Support Activity Bahrain Fire and Emergency Services, Bahrain—Scored an impressive 104 out of 105 on the 8010 Shipboard Fire Drill. As a result, their Incident Command Post and Emergency Operations Center operations were hailed as best practices. The Department also developed and implemented the Local National Total Compensation Comparability Plan for foreign national employees in Bahrain, which will save the Navy more than $400,000 over the next 3 years.
- Fire Department of the Year, Medium Category: Aviano Air Base Fire and Emergency Services, Italy—Drafted 6 Protection-Level-One tactics and instructed 54 Italian firefighters on F-16 aircraft emergency mitigation procedures. This work enabled the certification of three host nation runways across Italy to be granted diversion capabilities to support global surety deployments and help project unified partnership lethality in the U.S. European Command.
- Fire Department of the Year, Large Category: Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton Fire and Emergency Services, California—Responded to 116 wildland fires. These efforts included supporting the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s deployment to Creek Fire, a wildfire that burned 379,895 acres and was the fourth-largest wildfire in modern California history. The Department also deployed a COVID-19 mitigation model that embraced using technology for briefings and QR codes for check-ins to support large-scale incidents.
- Fire Prevention Program of the Year: 673 Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska—Orchestrated over 1,000 fire inspections on 742 installation facilities. The fire prevention team provided assessments on 45 projects and oversight on 83 critical project reviews, which advanced $100 million in construction and protected almost 15 million square feet of infrastructure.
- Military Firefighter of the Year: Senior Airman Journey T. Collier, 35th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services Flight, Misawa Air Base, Japan—Was the first firefighter on scene to rescue a Navy FA-18 pilot suffering from hypoxia due to a canopy malfunction. She expertly removed the pilot and assisted the medical team with transport for medical care, contributing to the pilot’s full recovery. She also led a career exchange event with seven Japan Air Self-Defense Force firefighters to strengthen cooperation and interoperability between the United States and Japan at the tactical level.
- Civilian Firefighter of the Year: Mr. Matthew J. Callaghan, Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina—Recognized as Category I Civilian of the Quarter for leading a four-person rescue operation team that saved a critical patient from a 767 aircraft using a 105-foot tower. He also piloted the fire department’s quality of life program and authored the Rookie Book, a professional development tool for new firefighters, and the new Air Force Fire Officer Book.
- Military Fire Officer of the Year: Senior Master Sergeant Mark J. Tross, Joint Region Marianas/Naval Support Activity Andersen, Guam—Awarded Chief Fire Officer designation through the Center for Public Safety and Excellence for providing guidance for 375 firefighters and $93 million in warfighting assets and supporting 17 nations covering 4 million square miles. He also authored the regional hazardous response plan for four installation forces.
- Civilian Fire Officer of the Year: Mr. Keith R. Pellerin, 673 Civil Engineer Squadron/Civil Engineer Flight, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska—Directed 15 firefighters and 3 different responding organizations to contain an aggressive interior housing fire at a large fourplex, limiting fire loss damage to only $10,000. He also flawlessly organized and oversaw a 160-hour National Registry Emergency Medical Technician course and mentored four instructors through the course; all students passed the national test on their first attempt.
- Fire Service Instructor of the Year: Assistant Chief Thomas P. Wiley, Naval Station Rota Fire and Emergency Services, Spain—Planned, executed, and evaluated five multi-organizational integrated live-fire training exercises in coordination with the Spanish Navy Bomberos and Morón Air Base. The combined exercises trained more than 100 firefighters, and one of the live-fire training exercises was part of the annual Installation Training Team exercise known as Lazy Altitude.