Officials from the Army's Installation Management Command Southeast Region Friday announced that the nearly 240-member strong Fort Rucker Fire Department has been named the region's Large Fire Department of the Year.

"I am thrilled beyond words that the department was selected as the Large Fire Department of the Year," Fort Rucker Fire Chief Steve Collins said Tuesday. "This speaks highly of every member of the department and everything we do as a department to stand out 'Above the Best' in (the Southeast Region)."

To achieve top honors, Fort Rucker beat six departments including the Fort Bragg, N.C., Fire Department, a department named the best large department in the Department of Defense last year.

"Fort Bragg has been the Large Department of the Year for three of the last five years," Collins said. "Doing better than Fort Bragg in the region was a great accomplishment for us."

Bruce Goodwin, Southeast Region Fire Protection Specialist and awards program manager, said Fort Rucker earned the top large fire department award by scoring 94.5 out of 100 total possible points in categories covering customer service, innovativeness, quality management, quality of life, and awards, accreditation and certifications.

"This competition lets firefighters on the floor know what kind of department they are working for," Goodwin said.

Collins said the Large Department of the Year award truly belongs to the entire department.

"Our guys know what needs to be done day-to-day and they see to it that everything gets done," he said. "This award is a direct reflection of the hard work of every member of the team."

Several Fort Rucker Fire Department personnel were also recognized during the awards competition for their individual achievements.

Staff Sgt. Lucius Kirkland was named the Top Military Fire Officer of the Year for the second year in a row and Spc. Joshua Gage was named the Military Firefighter of the Year. Staff Sgt. David Castaneda, Pvt. Christopher Norton and Pvt. Roger Moss were recognized for their response to a July 16 TH-67 helicopter crash at High Bluff Stage Field with the Firefighter Heroism Award.

"The Fort Rucker Fire Department provides the installation with the highest quality emergency response, consequence management and prevention services available," Garrison Commander Col. Scott Larese wrote in an awards packet memorandum. "The military, civilian and (Family members) of Fort Rucker work and live in a safe and healthy environment due in large part to the outstanding efforts of the installation fire department."

The winners of the Southeast Region competition have been forwarded to the Army-level competition. Army-level winners will be announced at the end of May and these winners will then be forwarded to the Department of Defense competition. Department of Defense winners will be announced Aug. 15 in Denver, Colo.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16