AThe International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) presented the Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services Awards at the Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services Training Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana on Wednesday, August 18, 2004.

The Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) awards program was developed to recognize individuals, teams and departments that have made significant contributions to fire and emergency service. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, DLA and Coast Guard each select winners, and those individuals become the nominees to compete for the DoD Awards. The award winners are listed below.

The Fire Department of The Year Award (Team Award)

Regional Fire Department, Commander Naval Forces Japan

The Regional Fire Department, Commander Naval Forces Japan was the recipient of Japanese Zenkokai Award for Outstanding Community Service. The department spearheaded a major relief effort during a Japanese natural disaster, acting as liaison between the U.S. Embassy, Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan and the Government of Japan, and it launched a cutting-edge translation program to include Firefighter Essentials, Emergency Response Guides, Life Safety Code and technical manuals for all equipment. The department was selected by the Chief Naval Operationís office as first site outside the U.S. Homeland to implement a Regional Monitoring Center.

The Military Fire Fighter of The Year Award

Machinery Repairman First Class (SW) Chris A. Gates, USS HUE CITY(CG 66)

Gates was selected as the HuE City's 2003 Naval Academy Leadership Award winner and Surface Navy Association George Syrian Leadership nominee. He completed academic and other military requirements for Chief Petty Officer rating, served superbly as the senior enlisted fire fighter onboard, and helped train nearly 400 crewmembers in basic and advanced fire fighting procedures during the most intense period of the ship's inter-deployment readiness cycle. Gates also enabled damage control to be the first area in the ship certified during the HuE city's basic phase of operations.

The Civilian Fire Fighter of The Year Award

Drillmaster Thomas Epperson, Regional Fire Department, Commander Naval Forces Japan

Epperson received a Special Safety Award for conducting two practical fire academies for 47 recruit firefighters ó he utilized risk management to provide live fire training with no mishaps or injuries during training evolutions. He saved thousands of dollars by conducting a local academy versus sending the recruits to a civilian fire training academy elsewhere; initiated the departmentís Firefighter Wellness/Physical Fitness Program, significantly enhancing fitness levels; and conceived a plan and obtained approval to utilize installation recycling award funds to purchase four AEDs for the fire department.

The Military Fire Officer of The Year Award

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Roger E. Bond, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona

Bond supervised Aircraft Fire and Emergency Services operations for Yuma International Airport and the air station. He provided sound decision making in the face of massive fire fighter shortfalls during Operation Iraqi Freedom, positively impacting mission success and curtailing the degradation of valuable flight training time. Bond also established a 95.8 percent readiness for maintenance of emergency vehicles, highest in the Navy and Marine Corps. He is a senior member of ďTiger Team,Ē formed to evaluate and recommend environmentally compliant fire training facilities, and he developed and supervised a college-level program that increased the staffing of EMTs from six to 52 personnel

The Civilian Fire Officer of The Year Award

Assistant Fire Chief John D. Smithgall, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pennsylvania

Smithgall is enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire Academy and in Master of Fire Science Degree program through Madison University. He initiated and completed the departmentís conversion to Firehouse software system, which streamlines data management; he is responsible for the re-certification of 15 fire department personnel and four others to the EMT level; and he conducted valuable classroom and hands-on fire extinguisher training for more than 1,200 installation personnel. He is responsible for the fire departmentís financial managementóhe ensured proper distribution of funds needed for vital department programs.

The Fire Fighter Heroism Award (Individual or Team Award)

Fire Protection Crew Chief Akihito Sato, Regional Fire Department, Commander Naval Forces Japan

While driving to work, Sato observed a column of smoke and discovered a private residence that was well involved with fire. Upon arrival at the house, he found two residents trapped by flames on the second floor, screaming and crying for help. Using a ladder from the next door, Sato ascended to the second floor and carried two occupants down the ladder. After the initial rescue, he re-entered the house via the front door to search for a third occupant. Sato performed these actions in complete disregard for his own personal safety under extreme fire and smoke conditions. He was awarded the department Medal of Valor for his courageous actio