David Hawks, CAL FIRE Butte Unit Chief, and Butte County Fire Chief was honored for his courageous efforts during the "Camp Fire" wildfires in California (2018) with the 2019 IAFC Ben Franklin Award for Valor, sponsored by Motorola Solutions. Named after the nation's first fire chief, Benjamin Franklin, it is the most prestigious honor a department can receive from the IAFC.
Chief Hawks took steps that saved lives during the Paradise Fire (Novemebr 2018). As he headed to the easterly point of the town that the fire first impacted. He recalled, "It was like driving through a snow blizzard, only it was an ember blizzard."
Several critical buildings, including the town's only hospital, were located in this area and soon the hospital's patients were ordered to evacuate. Heather Roebuck recently having given birth, was told: "Grab your baby, we've got to go."
The ambulance carrying Heather only made it a half mile before being overcome by fire. "I said goodbye to my husband, and just told him to tell the kids I love them," said Heather Roebuck.
However, Heather, her baby, and other residents lived to tell the story because of the brave actions of David Hawks (detailed here), CAL FIRE Butte Unit Chief, and Butte County Fire Chief.
Watch Chief's Hawk's FRI Chief Chat as he describes in more detail the situation and actions taken on that day.
Steven Ilchishin is the content and communications manager for the IAFC.