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Chiefs Morrison and Clack Selected 2019 IAFC Fire Chiefs of the Year

Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. and the IAFC are pleased to announce that John Morrison, Vienna (Virginia) Volunteer Fire Department, and James Clack, Ankeny (Iowa) Fire Department, were selected as the 2019 volunteer and career IAFC Fire Chiefs of the Year.

Since 1996, the prestigious Fire Chief of the Year award has recognized one volunteer and one career fire chief for their leadership, innovation and contributions to the fire service. The IAFC presents the awards in partnership with Pierce Manufacturing. The program’s media partner is FireChief.com.

“Pierce is proud to once again support the recognition of the Fire Chief of the Year honorees,” said Jim Johnson, president of Pierce Manufacturing. “Chief Clack and Chief Morrison are visionary yet humble leaders. Their unyielding commitment to the fire service and their communities is inspiring. Congratulations to Chief Clack and Chief Morrison.”

Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year — Chief John Morrison

Chief Morrison joined the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department in 1996 at the age of 16. He became an emergency medical technician in 1997, a firefighter in 2002, a lieutenant in 2009 and the volunteer chief in 2010. The department staffs 25% of all shifts throughout Fairfax County with a population of more than 1.1 million residents. Morrison’s vision and leadership is an integral part of several overarching, countywide initiatives, including collaborating with internal and external stakeholders in the development of a medical emergency dispatch algorithm focused on reducing call-processing times.

Morrison was nominated by Fire Chief John Butler, Fairfax County (Virginia) Fire and Rescue Department, who said, “Chief Morrison’s involvement in all aspects of the volunteer fire and rescue service sets him apart and displays his natural leadership  abilities  to find creative, unique and common- sense solutions to problems that volunteer systems experience across the country. His innovative methods have become best practice and have  undoubtedly  contributed to the continued success of the volunteer fire and rescue service, in partnership with the FRD.”

Morrison said of  his honor:

“It is truly an honor to be recognized by one’s peers for an award, especially the IAFC’s Volunteer Fire Chief of  the Year. I’d like  to express my appreciation to Pierce Manufacturing, Inc. for their support of this prestigious program. I wouldn’t be here without the support I’ve received from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, especially Chief John Butler, Congressional Fire Services Institute Executive Director Bill Webb, the members and leadership of the Vienna Volunteer Fire Department and my incredibly supportive family.”
Career Fire Chief of the Year — Chief James Clack

Chief Clack is a 33-year member of the fire service and  has  been the fire chief for the Minneapolis (Minnesota) Fire Department, the Baltimore City (Maryland) Fire Department and the Ankeny (Iowa) Fire Department. Clack began as a  firefighter at Fire Station 11 in Minneapolis in 1986. Over 18 years, he demonstrated leadership abilities that led to his appointment as chief of Minnesota’s largest fire department in 2004.

Clack commandeered one of the state’s worst roadway emergency incidents in Minnesota history. On August 1, 2007, the I-35W Bridge collapsed endangering more than 100 lives and killing 13. His leadership and command presence brought together local, state and federal agencies as part of the unified response.

Clark was nominated by Deputy Chief Frank Prowant, Deputy Chief Robert Chiappano, Division Chief Daniel Schellhase and Fire Marshal Craig Fraser — all of the Ankeny Fire Department — who said Clack is “truly a consummate professional, servant leader, caring and compassionate fire chief who leads by example. His leadership, values and professionalism have allowed us to improve ourselves as individuals, our dedication to our families, and the service we provide to our community.”

Examples of Clack’s visions for success are not limited  to  only his accomplishments but are also
demonstrated in the development of his officers and line personnel. “His caring and compassionate personality extended to how he manages his personnel,” his nominators said. “Each member of the department has been educated in Chief Clack’s Leadership Values. These simple concepts have greatly attributed to our organizational success. These values focused upon doing the right thing, that humans are more important than things, communicating effectively, having pride in your profession and the importance of family, faith and taking time for yourself.”

Clack said he was very surprised to learn that he had been selected by the IAFC as Fire Chief of the Year.

“Many of my fire service mentors and heroes are on the list of past recipients of this award. When I think about what this honor means to me personally, I can’t help but feel gratitude for all the blessings God has poured on Rose and I and our entire family. I want to thank  Pierce Manufacturing for sponsoring this award and all of my co-workers and fire service friends who nominated me and continue to work so very hard to keep us all safe.”

Jim Philipps is the Assistant Director of Strategic Communication of the IAFC. 

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