CAMP WALKER, Republic of Korea — The Department of the Army has recognized the U.S. Army Garrison Daegu (USAG Daegu) Fire and Emergency Services (FES) team with two awards for outstanding performance in 2021: Medium Fire Department of the Year and Fire Chief of the Year.
The USAG Daegu FES team covers operations, fire prevention, fire emergency dispatch, and command and control in multiple locations, including Daegu, Busan and Waegwan. Dispatchers maintain 24/7 synchronized communications and deal with translation for off-post emergencies with local Korean emergency response teams. The team consists of 75 personnel who directly contribute to the safety of the USAG Daegu community.
"Their ability to work together and their involvement with the community really sets them apart. The effort that they put in to be part of the community, both on and off the installations has helped them reach the levels that they have," said Mike Diehl, USAG Daegu Fire and Emergency Services Fire Chief.
"They take a lot of pride in what they do and they prove that on a daily basis. They want to do their best, they want to learn. They really work hard and make my job easy."
Although Fire Chief of the Year is an individual category, Diehl credited his firefighting team for that award as well.
"For me it means that it's just a culmination of accolades for our departments. It's not just something I won, but something that recognizes our entire department for the efforts that they've put out."
The USAG Daegu FES team protects an area of 20,000 square miles and is the most geographically dispersed garrison in the Army, according to Diehl. The team has mutual aid agreements with multiple South Korean emergency service organizations to help provide additional assistance to cover this area, but also provides support in return—the FES team provided assistance in March 2022 to help fight local wildfires with 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade aircrews.
"We have great support from all of our mutual aid partners. Whether it's us providing support to them, or them providing support to us, it's been a great mutual relationship. They think about us when they have events going on because our entire department and the garrison has made an effort to be part of their community," said Diehl.
While he credited his team for the awards, Diehl also recognized the role the USAG Daegu community played in the FES team's success.
"Thank you for the community and the command for your support. It's really helped us in being able to do the things that make us successful. The community has taken fire prevention to heart. That's kept our fire responses down and fire damage down because they understand and are willing to learn and engage with the firefighters."
This is the third consecutive year the USAG Daegu FES team has been recognized as the Army's Medium Fire Department of the Year. It is the first time Diehl has received the Army's Fire Chief of the Year award.
The USAG Daegu FES team's accomplishments for 2021 included:
- More than 800 emergency responses
- Intensive care and assessment of patients in critical condition provided to 78 individuals
- Battled six fires with zero government fire loss
- Conducted 189 housing safety checks provided; educated 678 residents