FORT HOOD, Texas - The Fort Hood Fire Department and Cpl. Ryan Hawkins were recognized as the best large fire department and military firefighter at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command level.
This is the first time since 2009 that the Fort Hood Fire Department has received this recognition.
“(The competition) gives each agency its own chance to reflect on their accomplishments throughout the year whether that be incidents they’ve responded to or training certifications that we’ve accomplished throughout the year,” said Joshua Gillis, deputy fire chief for the Fort Hood Fire Department.
This past year was a big one for the Fort Hood Fire Department. With the help of over 30 local, state and federal agencies, they fought the Crittenberg Complex fire, which burned over 30,000 acres of land. It was the largest fire on the installation in its 80-year history and Fort Hood Fire Chief Andrew Lima said he was happy to have overcome the challenge.
“We got together with all of our partners … to battle this fire and we actually stopped it from damaging any homes or causing any loss of life,” Lima noted, adding that another major accomplishment was firefighters performing CPR and saving the lives of three people. "They walk(ed) out of the hospital within a week or two.”
Both Gillis and Lima said they are incredibly proud to be the leaders of the Fort Hood Fire Department and are happy to see their team be awarded the recognition.
“It’s an honor as far as I can speak,” Gillis said. “I’m so proud of the (team) and all the accomplishments that they’ve achieved to get us to this level. To them, it’s probably just another day, or a walk in the park for them. It’s an awesome feeling knowing we’re representing IMCOM at this level and hoping we’ll move forward.”
“I’m proud to be the fire chief of this department … it’s great to be recognized and have the guys be recognized,” Lima said. “They do a lot and do not (always) get recognized because it’s their job. They’re supposed to be doing this for work, but it’s great that they get recognized ... they accomplished a great deal this year.”
Though he works as part of a team, Cpl. Ryan Hawkins, 36th Engineer Brigade, received individual recognition and was awarded the title of best military firefighter at the IMCOM level. He was said he is inspired by his mom, a nurse, to pursue a career that would let him to give back to those around him.
“I always saw (my mom) being on call and responding, telling me about whatever the call was that day and the passion that she always had compelled me to want to join some kind of emergency or medical (organization) to help people in my community,” Hawkins said.
Hawkins said he's humbled, admitting he was very surprised that he received the recognition.
“I got a phone call saying that they wanted to nominate me and that alone was humbling to me,” he stated. “It’s just our day-to-day job, and to be nominated for military firefighter of the year, by itself, was an honor.”
Hawkins said this award will set the standard for him as he continues forward in his career.
“I just want to continue to get my EMT and move towards being a medic so I can be a more proficient part of the team when it comes to that,” he said.
The Fort Hood Fire Department and Hawkins will represent IMCOM in the Department of the Army’s Annual Fire and Emergency Services Awards competition.