The 2017 Governor’s Fire Services Awards were presented to recipients in eight categories during the Virginia Fire and Rescue Conference opening ceremonies on Saturday, February 24, 2018.  The event was held at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Established in 2002, the Governor’s Fire Service Awards recognize and honor the excellence in Virginia’s Fire Services. The Virginia Department of Fire Programs, in partnership with the Virginia Fire Services Board, facilitated these awards.

“This year’s nominations included an outstanding representation of Virginia’s fire services and their commitment to the protection and safety of the citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran. “It is my honor to present the Governor’s Fire Services Awards and recognize outstanding commitment and dedication to the fire services.”

“One cannot help but be inspired by the selfless actions and unwavering commitment of these individuals to Virginia’s Fire Service,” said Virginia Department of Fire Programs Executive Director Michael Reilly. “I would like congratulate this year’s winners and thank all our firefighters and first responders that courageously protect and serve the citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia everyday in large and small ways.”

Winners of the 2017 Governor’s Fire Service Awards are:

Excellence in Virginia Fire Services: Retired Battalion Chief David Creasy

Retired Battalion Chief David Creasy has dedicated his lifetime educating and protecting residents of Metro Richmond from the damaging effects of fire. After more than 50 years in the fire service, Chief Creasy was diagnosed with Stage 4 neuroendocrine carcinoma in July 2014. Since his frightful diagnosis, Chief Creasy has dedicated himself to educating and preventing his fellow firefighters across the country on the necessary steps to reduce the alarming rate of cancer in the fire service. Chief Creasy has been a change agent for policy and procedural development on toxic exposure and reduction efforts.

Excellence in Community Risk Reduction: Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department

After three residential structure fires that claimed the loss of four young lives in early 2016, the Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Department launched a comprehensive fire safety campaign to reduce fire-related deaths. This campaign involved a fire safety video, printed fire prevention materials and increased efforts to visit schools, preschools, daycares, churches and businesses. Finally, the Department launched a social media campaign and challenged all Roanoke County residents to develop a fire escape plan, practice it and post a picture to social media.

Excellence in Fire Service Training: Charles Pruitt

Charles Pruitt demonstrates year after year his commitment and dedication to educating the next generation of firefighters on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. Mr. Pruitt is the current Director of Public Safety for Accomack County. Mr. Pruitt first became involved with the Eastern Shore Regional Fire Academy in 1999. Without the drive and determination of Mr. Pruitt, this facility would not offer the high-level of professional fire training is does today.  Hundreds of firefighters have received their training under Mr. Pruitt’s leadership and the residents of Eastern Shore are safer because of his unwavering commitment to training.

Outstanding Fire Department Response: Charlottesville Fire Department

The events of August 12, 2017 in Charlottesville were truly unimaginable and required an emergency response that our Commonwealth hopes to never need again. In attempts to plan and deploy for this very atypical event, the department had to more than doubled its sworn capacity to increase the capability of the local response system. This level of mutual aid is truly unprecedented and the command staff of the Charlottesville Fire Department exercised extreme leadership as it coordinated a lot of moving people and parts that day. The magnitude of the interagency planning and coordinating was phenomenal. The Charlottesville Fire Department was a vital leader in the regional preparation and contributed significantly to the Commonwealth’s combined ability to respond.

Private Sector Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Support: BWX Technologies

For decades, BWX Technologies (BWXT) in Lynchburg has provided various forms of support to the Central Virginia Region’s fire and rescue services. Safety is ingrained into the culture of BWXT and foster involvement with the local volunteer fire departments. Over the past five years, BWXT has offered numerous courses at no cost for firefighters as well as extended their generosity to donate a pumper truck. BWXT has provided immeasurable contributions to Virginia’s Fire Service and the fire departments throughout Central Virginia are better off because of their unwavering generosity.

Civilian Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Support: Virginia Hands and Voices

Recognizing a need for increased public education, the Virginia Chapter of Hands and Voices developed two webinars to educate about the fire service needs of the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities. These webinars discussed how families with hearing loss can help protect themselves before and during a house fire. With the assistance of National Fire Protection Association, these webinars were available nationwide and more than 200 people registered for these two webinars. Due to the initiative of Virginia Hands and Voices, people in Virginia and across the nation that are impacted by hearing loss have a better understanding of the resources available to them and what they need to do to protect their families.

Virginia Volunteer Firefighter of the Year: Lieutenant Kenny Kirby

Lt. Kenny Kirby has had a long and distinguished career in the fire service. His service began in 1998 with the Concord Volunteer Fire Department. Kenny has served as President of the Central Virginia Firefighters Association since 2013. During his time as President, he has reenergized the Association and made providing superior training its priority.  He has successfully hosted two regional fire schools that have drawn students from across the Commonwealth.  Lt. Kirby has a passion for fire service leadership and the betterment of his fellow firefighters.  To that end, he includes not just hands on programs at the regional school, but also leadership programs to ensure he captures the entire fire service audience.

Virginia Career Firefighter of the Year: Lieutenant Marc Davidson

Recognizing a need to enhance and deliver a comprehensive officer development and training program, the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department established an Officer Development Training position in February 2017.  Lt. Marc Davidson led this new training initiative and delivered officer development and leadership training programming to over 2,300 firefighters through multiple delivery platforms in Fairfax County.  Through his Riding the Seat Program, Lt. Davidson has impacted firefighters from Fairfax County Fire and Rescue, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Arlington County Fire, Alexandria Fire, Loudoun County Fire, and Prince William County Fire. This program delivers tactical, front-seat training focused on quick officer decision making. The program reached approximately 200 attendees bimonthly.

Virginia Volunteer Fire Chief of the Year: Chief William Hanks

Chief William Hanks has served the community of Christiansburg as a member of the Christiansburg Fire Department since 1981. During his tenure as a volunteer, he has served as a firefighter, engineer, lieutenant, training officer and now chief. For the past eight years, has served as the Fire Chief and Fire Marshal for Christiansburg. Under the leadership of Chief Hanks, the Department witnessed a full renovation to its fire station. During these renovations, Chief Hanks implemented critical fire safety measures and increased the capacity for training and overnight lodging.  Chief Hanks spends countless hours supporting not only the Christiansburg Fire Department, but also the other four fire departments and six rescue agencies in Montgomery County. When someone calls into the station and needs something as small as a smoke detector battery changed, Chief Hanks is out the door and helping change the battery

Virginia Career Fire Chief of the Year: Chief W. Keith Brower

Chief W. Keith Brower, Jr. is deserving of this award not only for his forty-four years of service to Loudoun County, but for his continued devotion to fire prevention across the Commonwealth. Chief Brower began his tenure in the fire service in 1973 and became the Chief of Loudoun Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Management in 2010. Under Brower’s leadership, the County transitioned from 17 separate organizations into one of the largest combined systems in the Commonwealth. Not only did Chief Brower champion this initiative, but he also took responsibility for this experiment and continues to meet the unique challenges this new system encounters. No one else could have done it. However, perhaps one of Chief Brower’s most important contributions to Virginia’s Fire Service is his unwavering passion and support for fire prevention. Brower has become a recognized leader for issues involving the development and implementation of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code. Chief Brower’s support of residential sprinklers and engagement with many national organizations is unprecedented.  Chief Brower is highly respected in both Loudoun County and the Commonwealth of Virginia for his efforts and his ability to accomplish the mission.