Streator Fire Department Receives Top Community Service Award

Sept. 1, 2017
Illinois department offers several programs to keep community safe

September 1, 2017 — The Streator, IL, Fire Department has been named the winner of Firehouse’s Thomas Carr Community Service Award. Firehouse Editor-in-Chief Tim Sendelbach will present the award to Fire Chief Gary Bird during the Oct. 19 opening ceremonies of Firehouse Expo in Nashville, TN.

With an above-average structural fire rate and civilian fire fatality rate, the Streator Fire Department—a career department with 16 members—developed several projects to build a safer community:

  • Commercial business fire inspections: Streator implemented a process for conducting life-safety inspections of commercial businesses with the goal of preventing fires due to dangerous conditions. In the process, the firefighters are becoming better acquainted with the structures and business owners.
  • Citywide smoke detectors: Firefighters canvass neighborhoods, starting with those with the highest fire rate. One life has already been saved. A man was able to evacuate his burning home just one week after the smoke detector was installed.
  • EMS service: All EMS was previously provided by a private ambulance service that had an extended response time. Streator partnered with the ambulance company to train all firefighters as first responders. Now firefighters are responding to EMS calls, providing quicker response times to residents and additional staffing.
  • Training opportunities: There were not many training resources for firefighters located close to Streator. The fire department worked with a local business owner who donated property for a fire department training center. Another local business owner has donated money to build a classroom for training purposes. Construction on the facility has started, and the facility will ultimately result in better trained firefighters for a safer community.    
  • Vial of Life: The fire department partnered with community businesses to offer a Vial of Life project for members of the community, greatly improving the firefighters’ access to vital medical information during an emergency. 

The nomination read in part: “The dedication of the Streator firefighters in conjunction with strong community partners has made the community of Streator a safer place. The fire department does not have a large budget, and all these projects have been completed with no increased funding to the fire department.”

Sendelbach lauded the department’s efforts: “Despite financial limitations and limited staff, the Streator Fire Department has exercised tireless creativity and tenacity to implement community-focused projects that enhance the safety of the citizens they protect. The Streator Fire Department truly exemplifies the selfless service and passion of Chief Thomas Carr, and we are proud to recognize them for their efforts.”   

The Streator Fire Department will receive a cash award as well as a bell from Liberty Artworks for the honor, and the department will be featured in the October issue of Firehouse Magazine.

The other top Community Service honorees are as follows:

  • Second place: Paul (“Pete”) Martin – Lifetime Service, Ramsey, IN, Fire Department
  • Third place: Wellington Jackson – BAY EMT, Alameda County, CA, Fire Department
  • Fourth place: Thomas Wolfe – Knock4Life, Brunswick, GA, Fire Department

Four others are recognized as honorable mentions in this category.

Starting this year, the Community Service Award is named after Thomas Carr, the late fire chief who once held the top position at the Charleston, SC, and Montgomery County, MD, fire departments. The Firehouse Thomas Carr Community Service Award is designed to encourage fire departments to not only get involved in community service activities, but to engage in activities that truly give back and elevate a community in a way that can change lives. 

To read more about the honorees in this year’s Valor & Community Service Awards, visit

Firehouse would also like to thank the 2016 Valor Awards Program corporate sponsors: 5.11 Tactical, Aladtec, Alert-All, Blackinton, Circul-Air, CMC Rescue,, Fire Station Outfitters, Fol-Da-Tank, Liberty Art Works, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Paratech, Phenix Technologies, and Waterway Cooperative. Their support and generosity help us honor America’s Bravest.    

About the Firehouse Valor & Community Service Awards

The Firehouse Valor & Community Service Awards is the largest awards program of its kind in the fire service. Nominations for the awards open each year in January, with submissions due in April. To have your department’s acts of valor or community service considered for an award, please e-mail [email protected]

About Firehouse

Firehouse is the leading fire and emergency services brand, reaching more than 1 million unique visitors and subscribers monthly, and thousands of attendees annually, via its live events and media portfolio. The Firehouse brand encompasses Firehouse Magazine,, Firehouse Expo, Firehouse World, Firehouse Station Design Conference and Awards, and a host of print and digital products targeting fire and emergency services personnel. Utilizing its multiple platforms and unparalleled reach, Firehouse sets itself apart from the competition by fostering a culture that encourages innovation and the use of the latest digital and database technologies to best serve its audience and companies serving the marketplace.

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