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IAFC Section Honors Health and Safety Leadership

The Safety, Health and Survival Section Awards Program recognizes both organizations and individuals who have made a significant contribution to the overall environment of health and safety within their own organizations and within the fire service as a whole. The section awarded the honors below at Fire-Rescue International 2012 in Denver.

“The individuals and organizations who have received these awards are literally on the cutting edge of leadership in safety in the fire service,” said Chief Matt Tobia, chair of the SHS Section. “It is our honor to recognize their achievements as examples for others to follow in doing everything possible to embrace the goal that Everyone Goes Home. We also thank our corporate sponsors and partner organizations whose commitment and support make it possible for us to celebrate these accomplishments.”

Alan Brunacini Fire Service Executive Safety Award

Cosponsored by Provident Insurance, this award is presented to the chief executive officer of a fire department of any size or composition that has demonstrated a unique commitment to fire service health and safety.

Chief Kevin McGee, Prince William County Department of Fire and Rescue, VA

Chief Kevin McGee has been a proactive advocate for Safety, Health, and Survival throughout his career. He has transformed his department by implementing crucial changes and developing programs specifically for health and wellness on and off the incident scene. For example, he increased staffing levels of specialty apparatus and increased the number of firefighters arriving at incident scenes. McGee also implemented a mandatory medical evaluation program that requires each operational member of the combination system to receive a medical physical yearly. Since its inception, medical conditions have been identified before causing permanent harm to personnel within the department. 

McGee continues to be an example and driving force for those in his department by exercising daily at the CPAT facility, maintaining a healthy diet, and demonstrating his commitment to the department’s Work Performance Evaluation Program by being the first in line to take on the annual task-based course. 

Billy Goldfeder Fire Service Organizational Safety Award

Cosponsored by VFIS, it’s awarded to fire service organizations of any size or composition that have demonstrated an outstanding commitment or significant contribution in the area of fire service health and safety. Fire departments, public agencies, private companies and other organizations that are affiliated with or sponsors of the IAFC may be considered for this award.

New Hanover County Fire Rescue, NC

The New Hanover County Fire Rescue prides itself in increasing its physical fitness status in order to provide the best service possible to members of the community. 

In 2010, the department created the New Hanover County Fire Rescue Health and Wellness Committee, which established a new wellness standard that lowered Body Mass Index (BMI) requirements to a maximum of 35.  The committee also led to the department’s adoption of NFPA 1582 and the department has a peer fitness instructor on staff to help promote firefighter health. The committee developed workout and nutrition plans and met with department members to educate them on proper workout and eating habits. 

The results speak for themselves. A mere two years after the committee began their work, the average firefighter for New Hanover County has dropped from 212 pounds with an average BMI to 29.7 to 196.6 pounds with an average BMI of 27.9.

Garry Briese IAFC Safety Performance Award

This award is given to a section member in recognition of personal commitment and achievement in the area of health and safety.

Assistant Chief Jay Schiedewitz, Fort Knox Fire Department, KY

Assistant Chief Schiedewitz, serving as Chairman of the Fort Knox Fire Department’s Health and Safety Committee, ensures that the department meets or exceeds established health and safety standards. He developed and implemented a Total Firefighter Wellness Program, providing physical, mental, and financial guidance to members on a professional level. In addition, he contracted a certified fitness trainer to be available for firefighters.

Schiedewitz annually hosts a nutrition class for all firefighters during Safety Stand Down Day as well as arranging and coordinating annual NFPA 1582-compliant medical exams for all firefighters. He also conducts physical agility tests for all firefighters and has noted substantial improvements annually.

Schiedewitz is well-recognized for his professional and personal commitment to health and safety, and has been selected to sever as department representative to numerous multi-jurisdictional emergency operations, including the Airfield Safety/Board Council and the Exercise Safety Control Staff for the Army Northern Command Vibrant Response Exercise involving more than 9,000 participants. 

Safety Officer of the Year

This award is cosponsored by FireRescue Magazine and supported by the Fire Department Safety Officers Association. It’s presented to a safety officer in a fire department of any size or composition who has made a significant contribution to his or her organization or the fire service as a whole in the area of health and safety.

Training Officer Mark Omasta, Danbury Fire Department, CT

Training Officer Mark Omasta is the training officer for the Danbury Fire Department which is comprised of 120 volunteers from 12 volunteer departments and 123 career members. As the only training officer, he is responsible for the health and safety of the responders during incidents, all training, record keeping, and compliance with standards.  For the past five years, he has been taking on duties and creating programs that are directly responsible for the improved safety of the department. 

Omasta’s direction and commitment has led to an increased level of training and safety throughout the department.  He presents a four-month Firefighter I course each year to the volunteers and develops required mandatory training to all existing members. Omasta has been the driving force in bringing the volunteer division and career division together with his ability to communicate has been inspiring for the members of the Danbury Fire Department, as he has united all factions with a common cause, health and safety.

The SHS Section thanks all those who submitted nominations for the 2012 awards program.

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