By Andrew Critchelow, Fort Knox News Contributing WriterMarch 23, 2018
Fort Knox Fire Department has been selected as the 2017 Medium Fire Department of the Year for the U.S. Army.
The department was chosen for the honor last year and has been awarded best Installation Management Command medium fire department four times in the past, according to Fire Chief Jay Schiedewitz.
This year's recognition puts the department in the running for the best medium department in the Department of Defense.
Schiedewitz, who has been with the department since 1999, credited the department's teamwork and knack for innovation for the recognition.
"It's a true honor for the hard work of the firefighters, fire inspectors and dispatchers to be recognized at the Army Level," Schiedewitz said. "This accomplishment can only be achieved with teamwork."
The department is made up of a 58-member staff, including six emergency dispatchers, five fire inspectors and 47 firefighters staffed at three fire stations. The recognition is given based on emergency response performance; department-level awards, accreditations and certificates; customer outreach and public education; training and education; and innovation and initiatives.
Schiedewitz attributes the department's success to factors like their quick emergency response time, along with community training and outreach. The department responded to 1,000 emergencies in the last year, including 30 fires, which resulted in zero injuries and $5000 in damages. As well, over 6,500 Fort Knox personnel were trained by the department last year on kitchen fire safety, extinguishers and emergency evacuation.
"The Fort Knox firefighters are trained to the highest level, providing those in need with an unmatched level of professionalism," Schiedewitz said. "The way each and every one of them exhibit their professionalism has always been humbling."
In addition to its continuous recognition over the years, the department is one of only three in the state to have accreditation status from the Commission on Fire Accreditation International under the Center for Public Safety Excellence. The other two departments with this status are in Louisville and Bowling Green.