2011 Career Fire Chief of the Year, Debra Amesqua, of the City of Madison Fire Department in Madison, Wisc.
2011 Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year, Robert Perry, of the Union Fire District in South Kingstown, R.I.
Appleton, Wis. (August 26, 2011) – Fire Chief Magazine, part of Penton Media, Inc.’s Public Infrastructure Group, and Pierce Manufacturing Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, today announced the 2011 winners of the annual “Fire Chief of the Year” awards. Volunteer Fire Chief Robert Perry of the Union Fire District in South Kingstown, R.I. and career Fire Chief Debra Amesqua of the Madison Fire Department in Madison, Wis. received the awards.
Winners are honored for their dedication and leadership in fire and emergency services. Sponsored by Pierce, the 16th annual awards were presented during the opening session at the 2011 International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Fire-Rescue International Exhibits and Conference in Atlanta, Ga.
“The leadership, determination and integrity modeled by Chief Amesqua and Chief Perry are an inspiration for all,” said Jim Johnson, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president, fire & emergency. “Between them, they have more than 70 years of service dedicated to firefighters and the communities they serve. It is an honor for Pierce to recognize their positive and significant impact on the fire service.”
Volunteer Fire Chief Honoree – Robert Perry, Union Fire District in South Kingstown, R.I.
Chief Robert Perry has been a volunteer firefighter for more than 40 years. He has served as the chief at the 300-member Union Fire District since 2004, and was a deputy chief for training and development for 16 years before being named chief. Intensely devoted to firefighter safety and training, Chief Perry is widely known for changing the paradigm to “Safety Always” in fire departments throughout the state of Rhode Island. During his tenure, he has built a culture that cultivates firefighting skills among all walks of the service. For training purposes, he spearheaded efforts to build – among other multiple props – a tower and a Class A live burn building.
Perry has been an instructor for the Rhode Island Fire Academy since 1988, and for the past 36 years has been an active member of the South Kingston Firefighters Joint Training Committee. Beginning in 1973 and continuing through 2009, Perry held several crash-rescue positions at TF Green International Airport in Warwick, R.I., including officer, lieutenant and captain. Perry served as an assistant deputy state fire marshal, served on the Rhode Island Central League Training Committee and held the position of assistant instructor at the Rhode Island Fire Academy.
Perry holds an Associates Degree in Fire Science from the Community College of Rhode Island, and has completed coursework and received numerous certificates for a wide range of specialized training, including: incident command, incident management, hazardous materials, rope rescue, collapsed building, explosives, extrication, confined space and more. Philip Stittleburg, Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council, said, "Chief Perry is a recognized leader who is progressive, believes in collaboration, and through cooperative understanding has built strong bridges between the volunteer and career firefighters in the state of Rhode Island."
Career Fire Chief Honoree – Debra Amesqua, City of Madison Fire Department in Madison, Wisc.
When Chief Debra Amesqua was named Chief of the City of Madison Fire Department in 1996, she was the first woman in the department’s history to hold the position. And, at the time, she was one of only seven women to head one of the 32,000 fire departments in the country. She began her firefighting career in 1983 as a recruit in the Tallahassee Florida Fire Department, where she rose through the ranks to Assistant Chief for Training for the department.
Amesqua is nationally recognized for her work on senior level management training for fire service women and breaking down barriers for people of color. She has developed and presented workshops and authored professional papers on subjects related to executive officer career development, and building a learning organization in the fire service. Under Amesqua’s leadership, the department’s Fire Station #12 was recognized as the second fire station in the country to achieve LEED® Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council, through utilization of recycled and locally sourced building materials, geothermal heat pumps, a green roof, solar collectors, pervious pavement and rainwater harvesting.
Amesqua holds a BA degree with honors in business and management from Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisc. She has completed the National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer (EFO) Training Program as well as the Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and numerous professional development workshops and programs including the Carl Holmes Executive Development Institute (EDI) at Florida A&M University. In February 2011, during three weeks of protests at the state capital by 10,000 Wisconsinites, Amesqua successfully led the department’s emergency operations center and command post to ensure a coordinated effort among firefighters, EMTs, paramedics and law enforcement agencies responding from a tri-state area.