VICENZA, Italy – When Bryant Benitez, assistant chief of operations U.S. Army Garrison Italy’s Fire and Emergency Services Division, heard that Installation Management Command-Europe recognized the garrison’s Directorate of Emergency Services for two awards, he was not surprised.
A few weeks ago, IMCOM-E awarded the garrison with Fire Prevention Program of the Year 2021 and Fire Officer of the Year, Chief Brent Collins.
“The entire department at USAG Italy is one of the hardest working teams that I have ever had the honor of working with,” Benitez said.
In November 2019, Collins came to Camp Darby in Livorno. Within a year he earned a promotion to battalion chief. Since then, Collins ensured 24/7 emergency operations, responded to two off-base wildland fires threatening the post and protected more than $16.4 million deployable equipment. Collins offered lifesaving medical care during severe cardiac emergency and secured $5,000 of personal protective equipment for personnel. Working through the pandemic also presented challenges, Collins said.
“Keeping crews safe and protected while still providing excellent customer service to the base populace was the biggest challenge working last year,” Collins said. “Some monthly training courses were cancelled while others were modified to be taught in smaller groups or individually.”
In July 2021, Collins also initiated visits to a local hospital, helping cheer up patients, families and staff with fire prevention demonstrations.
Recognized for their efforts, the garrison’s fire prevention team worked hard to spread their message throughout the year.
During Fire Prevention Week they hosted eight open houses, 20 public education events and influenced thousands. The DES also maintains a strong presence on social media to share fire prevention tips with the community.
Each year, the Department of Defense recognizes outstanding accomplishments and honors its fire departments, fire officers, and firefighters through the annual DoD F&ES Awards Program. Recognized in Europe, the awardees next compete at IMCOM level. Afterward, the Army winner competes with the rest of the DoD components.
“This awards process is very competitive,” Benitez said. “To be considered the best Fire Prevention and Fire Officer of the Year for all of Army Europe is a big honor.”