GOWEN FIELD, Idaho --The 124th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department here was named Fire Department of the Year for the fifth time by the Air National Guard Fire Chiefs Association August 1.
The Greg O. Winjum Fire Department of the Year award honors the top performing fire department in the Air National Guard based on accomplishments in seven categories including training, fire prevention and community relations.
The Gowen Field fire department won in its size category by a unanimous vote.
“It validates our work,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher A. Brearley, fire chief at the 124th CES fire department. “It validates what the members do. It shows that we’re meeting our goals and that we’re a progressive department and cutting edge. We’re staying on top of the career field.”
One of the most significant examples of the department’s commitment to innovation is the implementation of mutual aid agreements. “The biggest strength that we have is that we are really good at incorporating our experience from working with other departments,” said Lt. Col. Elizabeth A. Sumner, commander and fire marshal in the 124th CES. “It increases our overall training capability.”
The department has established mutual aid agreements with the City of Boise Fire Department, Ada County and the Bureau of Land Management. Through these agreements, firefighters not only respond to incidents in tandem, but also participate in inter-agency exercises to improve response effectiveness during mass casualties, aircraft incidents and more.
Mutual aid agreements are only one component keeping the fire department connected to the local community. In addition to their regular duties, the firefighters here have gone above and beyond to actively participate in volunteer events throughout the valley.
In 2017, the department raised over $17,500 for the Muscular Dystrophy Association during the Fill the Boot campaign where firefighters spent two days in a busy intersection collecting donations.
Through meet-and-greet events for children, monthly local outreach meetings, memorial rides, inspections and retiree reunions, the firefighters here are never too far from their community.
“As long as we can meet our mission here at Gowen Field, then we should be helping out the community,” said Brearley. “That’s what the Guard is all about.”
These are only some of the highlights of the ever-growing list of accomplishments the fire department and its firefighters have achieved, and they show no sign of letting up.
“Every hour these Airmen put in to their training and being present in our community is critical to saving lives and property,” said Col. Timothy J. Donnellan, commander of the 124th Fighter Wing here. “They epitomize the role of the Idaho Air National Guard Airman, ready to support our nation and community at any time. We could not be more proud of our firefighters, especially as they are receiving this award for the fifth time.”