The Department of Defense announced the recipients of the 2022 DOD Fire and Emergency Services Awards for outstanding accomplishments of its fire departments, fire officers, and firefighters May 22. The 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio won for Fire Prevention Program of the Year.
DOD F&ES Working Group representatives from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Defense Logistics Agency selected nine winners from a total of 41 nominations.
“The Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services community supports the Department in safeguarding and advancing vital U.S. national interests,” stated Brendan Owens, assistant secretary of defense for energy, installations, and environment. “With increasing climate-related threats, there is a heightened demand on the DOD F&ES community to assure DOD can carry out its mission.”
Each year, three of the 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.
Highlights of each winner’s 2022 achievements demonstrating their heroic commitment to ensure the safety of military personnel, their families, and the public and their dedication to safeguarding the DOD mission are below:
Fire Department of the Year, Small Category: 8th Civil Engineer Squadron, Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea – Battled a fuel truck fire and stopped the flames from reaching a 6,000-gallon fuel tank, thereby preventing an explosion. The department secured refueling operations and was awarded nine Air Force achievement medals for this effort. The department also saved an $18 million facility by extinguishing kitchen and boiler room flames.
Fire Department of the Year, Medium Category: Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan – Responded to 580 incidents, mitigating all hazards with zero losses. The department led a successful Fire Prevention Week that included 223 events, 23,000 customers, 47 games and demonstrations and five school visits. The department also provided 1,083 class hours, totaling 6,148 training man-hours in structural firefighting, hazardous materials response, fire prevention, emergency medical response and five rescue disciplines.
Fire Department of the Year, Large Category: Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California – Responded to 3,818 emergencies, 2,016 emergency medical services, 223 hazardous material incidents, 1,576 structural fires, 117 wildland fires and 167 mutual aid cases. The department obtained three California Incident Command Certification System wildland qualifications and holds the only DOD-qualified Type 3 Incident Commander, Type 3 Operations Section Chief, and Type 3 Logistics Section Chief.
Fire Prevention Program of the Year: 902d Civil Engineer Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas – Managed the DOD’s largest fire/life safety program which includes the protection of 80,000 people across 11 separate parcels of land, 47,000 acres, and 266 mission partners. The Fire Prevention Program was the Lead Fire Prevention planner for the Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph three-day airshow and successfully executed a fire/life safety risk management plan for more than 200 vendors, 200 aircraft, and 550,000 spectators.
Military Firefighter of the Year: Senior Airman Christian G. Hibner, 7th Civil Engineer Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas – Saved 12 homes in residential communities after responding to a 12-day, 11,000-acre wildfire and establishing a defensive perimeter with 275 state and federal firefighters. Senior Airman Hibner was recognized as Air Force Global Strike Command Firefighter of the Month for containing and extinguishing a 10-acre wildfire within three feet of an $11 million facility.
Civilian Firefighter of the Year: Clinton Goepp, Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California – Provided expertise in a residential structure fire by performing the primary search, containing the fire to two rooms, and averting the flames from spreading to adjacent structures. Firefighter Goepp also completed 280 hours of advanced California Specialized Training Institute Hazardous Materials Technician/Specialist/Weapons of Mass Destruction training.
Military Fire Officer of the Year: Chief Warrant Officer 3 Justin E. Barnes, Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii – Coordinated 896 hours of federal fire department cross training, and 3,150 man-hours of joint training with the 153rd Civil Engineer Squadron Wyoming Air National Guard. Chief Warrant Officer 3 Barnes also developed new Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting live fire training standards, which laid the foundation for the creation of an enterprise-wide Emergency Medical Responder training program.
Civilian Fire Officer of the Year: Assistant Fire Chief Christopher V. Cruz, Naval Station Rota, Spain – Directed operations for a multi-national response to a major shipboard fire on the Santa Maria, a Spanish Armada Frigate, saving 24 civilians and a $122 million asset. Assistant Chief Cruz was also applauded by the local government for his decisive actions while commanding a joint response to a heavy equipment fire, which helped protect the nearby critically endangered Serianthes nelsonii tree.
Fire Service Instructor of the Year: Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention and Training Gregory Neal Watkins Jr., Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management San Joaquin, California – Served as Lead Planner for a full-scale county mass casualty incident, train derailment, and police chemical biological radiological nuclear drill conducted over four days with seven external agencies, 132 people and four train cars. Assistant Chief Watkins also oversaw a new dispatch initiative that saved time and yielded 30 certifications for the division.