CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The Camp Pendleton’s Fire Emergency Services department was recently recognized as 2016’s Department of Defense Fire Department of the Year in a message released by the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, May 17, 2017.
This is the second time the department was recognized as one of the largest in the DOD and was responsible for more than 3,700 emergency responses, 156 of those being wildland fires, alone. Additionally, the staffs have been working with fire departments in the surrounding communities to maximizing the use of assets and training that lead to the 373 mutual-aid assistance calls supported outside the installation.
Chief Thomas C. Thompson, Camp Pendleton’s fire chief, credits the unit’s success to the individual firefighters and the process improvement they have been doing in the past five years.
“I am surrounded by very cool operators that get to practice their craft,” said Thompson, who is humbled by the recent recognition. “It is a testament to what they do, how they do it and the impact it has to the community.”
Camp Pendleton’s training ground support various tenants, most notably the I Marine Expeditionary Force, a 28 thousand person Marine Air – Ground Task Force, with ranges and wildland spanning over 125,000 acres.
In addition to the department being recognized, Assistant Chief Jeff Cunliff-Owen was selected as the Fire Officer of the Year for his work as the wildland coordinator.
The programs he leads in maintenance and suppression training throughout the year ensure each individual firefighter is getting the education and accreditation necessary to support the installation.
“They are the ones that make us look good,” said Cunliff-Owen, a 21 year-firefighter, of the firefighters and captains in the department. “We get it done here because of them. I’m just steering the bus.”
Both career firemen agree on the importance of these individuals to the team’s success, but more than anything want to do good work.
“We can see the impact we make every day, said Thompson. “Not every job is like that, and get satisfaction by helping our community and serving our warfighters and families.”