By Wallace McBride, Fort Jackson LeaderMarch 20, 2014
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (March 20, 2014) -- A Fort Jackson firefighter has been named IMCOM Atlantic Region's Fire Officer of the Year.
"My guys do all the work," said the post's Assistant Fire Chief Scott Dollman, who was among more than 100 officers in the region nominated for the honor. "It's just my name on the piece of paper."
"Dollman is a premier fire officer, and we are quite pleased to have him here at Fort Jackson," said Eric Harper, Fort Jackson fire chief. "He is technically superb, forward-thinking and leads with a spirit of teamwork and great care for our Soldiers and civilians."
Dollman's firefighting career spans 24 years, beginning with a four-year stint as a firefighter for the Air Force. He admits the job was far from his first choice.
"Being a firefighter was my seventh out of eight choices," Dollman said. "I kind of fell into this job."
Since then, he's worked for the Columbia Airport, Charleston Air Force Base, volunteered for a fire station in Irmo, and worked at the South Carolina Fire Academy for eight years as an adjunct instructor. He said there aren't many differences between working as a civilian and a military firefighter.
"Obviously, the run volume is a bit slower," he said of military work. "Working on a military installation is nice, because you're doing it for the people who work there and the families who live there. I've volunteered and worked municipal departments. It's similar, but it's nice to work for DoD and military families."
The post's fire department provides support for Moncrief Army Community Hospital's emergency medical services, but also has responsibility for all structural response calls, technical rescue and situations involving hazardous materials.
"Moncrief Army Community Hospital has the mission for medical, but we have a rescue truck and, all of our guys are EMTs," he said. "Any hazard you can think of on Fort Jackson, the fire department is directly responsible for."
Being a firefighter requires discipline and commitment from all involved, he said.
"We spend half of our life in the fire station," Dollman said. "It's hard for families, especially for wives and young kids. When (the spouses) get married, they marry the fire services, too, because we miss a lot of birthdays, Christmas, all the holidays. It definitely takes a strong family."
Dollman's responsibilities have changed since arriving at Fort Jackson.
"When I first started here, I rode backwards and rode in the rescue truck quite a bit," he said. "There are days we run 20 or 30 calls, most of them medical calls, and it wears you out ... especially in the summertime. There are days that are long, but it's fun, too. But I don't get to do that too much anymore. I ride in the command vehicle now."
Despite the stress and long hours, a career as a firefighter offers surprises and variety to the day. Dollman said this aspect of the job is what he loves most.
"Every day is a new challenge," Dollman said. "The fire service is ever evolving, so there are always new things to learn. Where I'm at now in my career, from a leadership standpoint, is teambuilding ... working with the guys to recognize their strengths and weaknesses so they can translate that back to the community."
His status as Atlantic Region's Fire Officer of the Year means he will compete against all other IMCOM region winners in the next round.
"Prior to my arrival in January of 2013, he was the interim fire chief for several months and his knowledge and professionalism made it so I was able to integrate into the department seamlessly," Harper said. "This award is quite the honor, as there can be 100 to 180 fire officers in IMCOM's Atlantic Region, and we always knew he was among the best. Now he'll go on to compete for all of IMCOM and if chosen, he'll move on to Army and then to the DoD."