By Cpl. Im Jin-min (USAG-Yongsan)May 13, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Yongsan's Fire Department has the best fire prevention program and top civilian fire officer in Korea.
"We did excellent, and are very pleased to pull two out of three categories of the competition," said Alex Temporado, U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan's fire chief. "Our hard-working members fully deserve this honor."
A team of five fire inspectors manage the fire prevention program that won Fire Prevention Program of the Year for 2007. Assistant Chief Bradley Bowling earned the Civilian Fire Officer of the Year for 2007 award.
The awards are one thing, but Temporado said it also sends a message that the fire department places community safety as its No. 1 priority.
"This is an Army Community of Excellence," he said, referring to the recent announcement that USAG-Yongsan was named one of the top three Army installations worldwide. "It sends the message out to our community that we care about their safety and that we are here for them."
The awards were announced in April, and Bowling and the fire prevention program team will compete at the Department of Defense level in August 2008.
Fire Prevention Program of the Year for 2007
Five fire inspectors run the prevention program for USAG-Yongsan -- Chief John Derengowski, Pak Chang-pom, Paek Sung-han, Yi Tok-kyu and Ho Tae-song.
The team inspected and improved fire safety conditions for more than 33,000 on-post and off-post residents and 1,500 USAG-Yongsan facilities.
"Our fire inspectors and fire fighters tested more than 1,600 smoke detectors, supplied more than 300 smoke detectors and conducted joint fire investigations with the Seoul City Fire department," Temporado said. Their most noted achievement is the dramatic reduction in annual fire loss, to an all-time low of less than 1 percent at risk.
"We are proud to say that we've worked dedicatedly, tackling many outside challenges that is not part of our normal work schedule, because there was, and still is, so much to improve around us," Derengowski said.
The team worked with community members to teach them tips on smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and fire safety. Also, a new fire prevention education talking robot named "Pluggie" taught hundreds of children how to prevent fires.
"What we teach the young children today could save their lives tomorrow," Derengowski said.
The team conducts more than 156 fire drills per quarter, averaging 8,000 people and helps disseminate safety information through mass media and booklets.
"I truly believe that organizational learning should be linked to fire protection," Temporado said. "Sometimes it's overlooked, but it's so important. The fire prevention team performed boundlessly to reach people and get the safety message out, while actively hunting for fire hazards in USAG-Y facilities that could cause a fire."
Civilian Fire Officer of the Year
Brad Bowling trained 64 fire firefighters, conducted 150 fire drills, 89 aircraft pilot egress exercises, taught more than 540 re-occurring classes, and gave 200 safety briefings - all without causing any injuries to firefighters. He also has helped teach Seoul City Fire Academy personnel.
"We have a very supportive team environment," Bowling said. "The management here has been not only creative but also proactive, carrying out new ideas into reality."
Bowling is also the first to conduct Mayday Firefighter Self-Rescue classes in Korea, and was the key player in securing a $300,000 contract to upgrade the fire protection system in the Navy Club.
"I'm happy; it's a good honor to go IMCOM-wide," he said. "It's like a cherry on top showing that I did right to choose to take a step into Korea."
Temporado said Bowling is a great asset to the working force. "Brad has worked hard training our firefighters, integrating and improving our operations, and has made great contributions to our fire department and Garrison community," Temporado said.