2021 Governor’s Fire Service Awards Nominations Open Through December 31, 2021

2021 Governor’s Fire Service Awards Nominations Now Open

Nominations accepted until December 31, 2021


RICHMOND – November 3, 2021 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs, a leader in enhancing public safety, in conjunction with the Virginia Fire Services Board, are seeking nominations for the 2021 Governor’s Fire Service Awards, which honors and recognizes excellence in Fire Services in the Commonwealth.

The annual Governor’s Fire Service Awards is presented in eight categories during the Virginia Fire Rescue Conference held in February at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Nominations can be submitted through an online form on the VDFP website through December 31, 2021.


About the Governor’s Fire Service Awards

The Governor’s Fire Service Awards were established in 2002. In partnership with the Virginia Fire Services Board, the VDFP facilitates the awards. The Virginia Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security presents the Governor with award recommendations, at which the final recipients are then selected. Award categories:

  • Governor’s Award for Excellence in Virginia Fire Service
  • Governor’s Award for Excellence in Virginia Community Risk Reduction
  • Governor’s Award for Excellence in Virginia’s Fire Service Training
  • Governor’s Award for Outstanding Fire Department Response
  • Governor’s Award for Private Sector Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Support
  • Governor’s Civilian Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Support
  • Governor’s Virginia Firefighter of the Year
  • Governor’s Virginia Fire Chief of the Year

Among the 2020 recipients were Virginia Beach Fire Department and the City of Staunton Fire and Rescue, who were recognized for Excellence in Virginia Fire Service Trainingand Outstanding Fire Department Response, respectively. Read more about the 2020 Governor’s Fire Service awards recipients

About the Virginia Department of Fire ProgramsThe Virginia Department of Fire Programs provides training, support services, and resources to more than 700 fire and emergency service organizations, and approximately 44,000 fire service personnel in the Commonwealth. Support areas include funding, professional development, research, operational support, technical assistance, and fire prevention inspections through its State Fire Marshal’s Office.

VDFP Regional Schools

VDFP Regional Schools

Wise Regional School – September 10-12, 2021
UVA Wise Campus

Register by September 1! 

  • Courses included:
    • Basic Pump Operations
    • Hazmat Operations
    • Instructor I
    • FF1 & FF2 Train-the-Trainer
    • Surface Water I & II
    • Intro to Tech Rescue – Module II
    • Vehicle Operations I

VDFP’s Aid to Localities Funding Increases to $34 Million for Firefighter Training and PPE in the Commonwealth

VDFP’s Aid to Localities Funding Increases to $34 Million for
Firefighter Training and PPE in the Commonwealth

The Aid to Localities funding program increased by 5.45% for Fiscal Year 2022,
stemming from the Virginia Fire Services Board’s approval and fire-related insurance collections.

RICHMONDJuly 12, 2021 – The Virginia Fire Services Board (VFSB), a Governor-appointed policy body that consists of 15 members from Virginia’s Fire Service, the insurance industry, municipal organizations, and citizen representatives; and the Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) announced today a 5.45% budget increase in the Fire Programs Fund. The increase totals $1.8 million dollars to the Virginia Aid to Localities (ATL) funding program, which bumps up the total aid to $34 million dollars for statewide distribution.

ATL funding comes from the Virginia Fire Programs Fund, which is derived from 1 percent of fire-related insurance coverage collected in the previous calendar year. Approximately 75% of the total fund goes directly to a total of 323 counties, cities, and incorporated towns within the Commonwealth. Twenty-five percent goes to VDFP’s operational budget.

VDFP administers the ATL program in conjunction with the Board.

The current fiscal year (FY22) increases follow pivotal milestones for the Board. In 2020, VFSB pushed to increase ATL funding to support training initiatives, construction of fire training centers, firefighting equipment, and protective gear. The Board’s request was made in response to increasing budget trends in Virginia’s Fire Service. During fiscal year 2021 (FY21), minimum ATL funding levels jumped from $10,000 to $15,000 and $20,000 to $30,000. This fiscal year, 152 Virginia localities will see an increase as they received above the minimum in FY21. The Board approved to allow the minimum funding levels to remain at the FY21 increases.

“The Board saw a trend in the rising costs of insurance, particularly the types of insurance in which the 1% that goes to the Fire Programs Fund is derived – fire, miscellaneous property and casualty, marine, homeowners, and farm owners insurance,” said VFSB Chair Scott Garber. “We made a strategic move in considering these increases to align with the rising costs in keeping fire departments operable.”

“The increased funding allows us to assist Virginia’s Fire Service in growing their departments and personnel. In some cases, ATL funding increases budgetary choices for financially strapped fire departments,” said VDFP Acting Executive Director Garrett Dyer. “Our purpose is to assist where we can to help fire departments meet or exceed their service delivery goals.”

Funding is available annually on July 1, the start of VDFP’s new fiscal year. Qualifying localities are required to submit annual reports and financial documentation to receive an allocation.

VDFP State Fire Marshal’s Office Stresses Safety Amid Openings During the Fourth of July Holiday

VDFP State Fire Marshal’s Office Stresses Safety Amid Openings
During the Fourth of July Holiday

RICHMOND – June 30, 2021 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs’ (VDFP) State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) reminds Virginians that this year’s Fourth of July Holiday will be celebrated with increased pre-pandemic behavior—permitted professional firework shows have been reinstated, but at-home celebrations will still be at the forefront.

With worldwide permissible firework shortages due to COVID-19 and shipping issues, it is again highly anticipated that there will be an influx of illegal fireworks usage throughout the Commonwealth.

In general, any firework that explodes, moves on the ground or in the air, or shoots a projectile is illegal.

VDFP’s State Fire Marshal’s Office serves as the fire code enforcement sector of the state government training agency. Almost 100 retail locations were inspected by SFMO in 2020, where nearly one-third of locations were found to be selling non-permissible fireworks. Approximately 12,000 illegal fireworks were confiscated that were either for sale, or in possession. In 2019, SFMO pulled approximately 10,000 non-permissible fireworks.

VDFP Acting Executive Director Garrett Dyer says, “If all residents follow our precautionary measures, there will be less of a chance of a fire related event, injuries, and an overall safer and happier holiday.” Fire and law enforcement officials will be working through the holiday to ensure the proper safety of the Commonwealth’s residents and visitors.

“The number of illegal fireworks has increased since last summer, even with permissible firework shortages,” said Billy Hux, VDFP Assistant State Fire Marshal of Special Operations. “We stress Virginians to leave fireworks to the professionals—they host for the proper use of permissible fireworks, safety factors, and capabilities.”

Only “permissible fireworks,” as defined in the Code of Virginia, can be legally sold, possessed or used within the Commonwealth. A list of permissible fireworks can be viewed on the VDFP website. The fireworks listed in this document have been field tested to compare the items to the performance criteria of the American Fireworks Standards Laboratory (AFSL). Permissible fireworks may also be further limited in different localities. Check local ordinances as well as the Statewide Fire Prevention Code prior to purchasing and utilizing fireworks.

In order to ensure the proper disposal of used fireworks, residents can call local police or SFMO. VDFP Assistant State Fire Marshal of Special Operations Hux added, “When celebrations come to an end, be sure to dispose of your used fireworks properly, soak spent fireworks in water before placing them in the trash to further prevent a fire-related incident.”

The sale, possession and /or use of any fireworks not classified as permissible is prohibited. Violations can be prosecuted as a Class I Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine not to exceed $2,500 and/or up to one (1) year in jail. Any illegal fireworks can be confiscated by authorities. Many localities prohibit the sale, possession or use of all fireworks.

If you decide to use permissible fireworks, please follow these important safety procedures:

  • Check local ordinances on the use of fireworks.
  • Fireworks can only be used on private property with the consent of the owner.
  • Never use fireworks indoors.
  • Never use fireworks while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Never allow children to use fireworks.
  • Ensure adequate clearance from people, buildings and combustible material.
  • Have a garden hose or other water source readily available in case of fire.
  • Soak spent fireworks in water before placing them in the trash.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never hold the fireworks in your hands while lighting them.
  • Never point fireworks at a person.

If you wish to report illegal fireworks, contact your local police department or contact the State Fire Marshal’s Office at (540) 270-6617.

VDFP Advises Virginians on Motor Fuel Dispensing and Storage Safety amid the Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack

VDFP Advises Virginians on Motor Fuel Dispensing and Storage Safety amid
the Colonial Pipeline Cyberattack

RICHMONDMay 12, 2021 – With the Colonial Pipeline cyberattack causing gas shortages in parts of the East Coast and in the Commonwealth, there have been reports of long lines at gas stations and Virginians traveling to remote locations to find gas reserves in order to stock up.

The Virginia Department of Fire Programs wants to advise residents and commuters about safe ways to dispense flammable fuels such as (gas, diesel or heating oil) into a portable container for proper storage:

  • Flammable fuels should not be dispensed into portable containers over 6 gallons, and the containers should be listed and approved for the flammable liquid intended for the portable container.
  • Portable containers should have a tight closure with a screwed or spring-loaded cover to prevent spills and vapors from escaping.
  • When transporting gasoline in a portable container make sure it is secured against tipping and sliding, and never leave it in direct sunlight or in the trunk of a car.
  • Flammable fuel should never be dispensed into portable cargo tanks or any other container not listed for flammable liquids.
  • Never fill a container while located in the trunk, passenger area of a car or in the bed of a pickup truck.
  • All containers should be placed on the ground and clear of any possible ignition sources such as the exhaust from a vehicle.
  • Fill portable containers slowly to decrease the chance of static electricity buildup and minimize spilling or splattering. Keep the nozzle in contact with the rim of the container opening while refueling. Fill container no more than 95 percent full to allow for expansion.
  • If gasoline spills on the container, make sure that it has evaporated before you place the container in your vehicle. Report spills to the station attendant.
  • Never smoke around flammable fuels.

For additional reference, the Virginia Statewide Fire Prevention Code outlines the specific requirements for fuel dispensing and storage:

  • 2304.4 Dispensing Into Portable Containers
  • 2304.4.1 Approved Containers Required
  • 2304.4.2 Nozzle Operation
  • 2304.4.3 Location of Containers Being Filled

Contact your local fire marshal or VDFP’s State Fire Marshal’s Office for further information regarding fire and life safety education.

VDFP Cautions against the Mishandling of Dry Ice Used for Shipping and Storing COVID-19 Vaccines

VDFP Cautions against the Mishandling of Dry Ice Used for Shipping and Storing COVID-19 Vaccines

Improper handling of dry ice when converted to a gaseous state presents structural, respiratory, and environmental hazards.

RICHMOND – December 30, 2020 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs, a leader in enhancing public safety, is cautioning first responders, health care professionals, and citizens in the Commonwealth about the dangers of improper storage and disposal of dry ice, which has surged in use to transport COVID-19 vaccines that require storage at ultra-low temperatures.

Dry ice is a solid form of carbon dioxide (CO2). Dry ice weighs just about twice as much as regular ice. Dry ice goes from a solid to a gas (sublimates) as it warms, releasing carbon dioxide.

According to a white paper on dry ice response issued by the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Hazardous Materials Committee, the primary health hazard occurs when dry ice returns to its gaseous carbon dioxide state at -78°C. The gas quickly expands and displaces oxygen inside enclosed spaces such as in transport compartments, small buildings, and walk-in coolers.

“We’re noticing a number of groups who are coming into contact with dry ice with the mass distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, who may not be aware of the risks that dry ice may impose. For example, dry ice at room temperature, could “off-gas” a high level of CO2 in a confined space. This is a hazard,” said VDFP Executive Director Michael Reilly. “First responders who are trained in hazardous materials response are aware of the proper handling, storage, and disposal of dry ice. We remain partners in response and prevention. We also want to stress the importance of risk mitigation during such an unprecedented time.”

Additional Hazards

If carbon dioxide gas is released while in transport or in storage, hazards can include an increased potential for an explosion due to pressure building within tightly sealed containers with no pressure relief device, unconsciousness due to displaced oxygen, and frostbite or burns if contact with cryogenic liquid or solid pieces of dry ice occurs.

VDFP encourages groups such as health care professionals and medical facility employees who are administering COVID-19 vaccines to call on first responders when carbon dioxide exposures arise.

“Our concern is about how Virginians should properly interact with the volumes of dry ice that the vaccines are packed with. There should be no eating, drinking, or smoking wherever the dry ice is handled, stored, and disposed,” said Virginia State Fire Marshal Garrett Dyer, “If an accident involving carbon dioxide occurs, such as a spillage, there are also environmental impacts to consider. This is why proper disposal of volumes of dry ice by a trained professional is important.”

How to Safety Interact with Dry Ice

  • Protect Your Skin – Contact with unprotected skin will cause severe thermal injury equivalent to full thickness burns. Tight fitting cryogenic gloves are required when handling dry ice and offers the most protection. Where the skin is injured due to exposure to dry ice, the contact area will need to be warmed to avoid tearing off skin.
  • Store in a well ventilated area – Most health hazards occur during the sublimation process, when dry ice is warmed and converts from a solid directly to a gas. Dry ice will sublime (melt) at -78°C and begin “off-gassing” which will quickly displace the oxygen inside of confined areas.


VDFP’s State Fire Marshal’s Office Issues Outdoor Heater Safety and General Guidelines for Tent and Membrane Structures

VDFP’s State Fire Marshal’s Office Issues Outdoor Heater Safety and General Guidelines
for Tent and Membrane Structures

RICHMOND – November 25, 2020 – As COVID-19 continues to place severe limitations on work and social environments, the seasonal weather will further impact how and where people gather. Many restaurants and other venues may use open outdoor space or a temporary membrane structure for patrons to have the adequate social space to comply with social distancing guidelines. With temperatures dropping, many business look to use portable heating appliances to provide necessary environmental comforts to its patrons. This guidance document provides general safety and code requirements within the 2015 Statewide Fire Prevention Code (SFPC) that govern the use and storage of portable outdoor heating, tent and other membrane structures. Guidance topics included:

  • Portable, outdoor gas-fired heating appliances
  • Portable, electric space heaters
  • Tent and other Membrane Structure Guidelines

Review the Outdoor Heater Safety and General Guidelines for Tent and Membrane Structures


It’s Fire Prevention Week. Get your safety tips from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.

It’s Fire Prevention Week. Get your safety tips from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen.”

RICHMONDOctober 5, 2020 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs’ (VDFP) State Fire Marshal’s Office reminds Virginians to keep safety at the forefront while cooking and using appliances in the kitchen. As we spend more time in our residences, the chances of fire-related accidents and injuries increases.

“There have been 29 civilian fire fatalities in Virginia as of September 30. Of those fire fatalities, 3% were caused by cooking. 48% occurred in single-family homes,” said Virginia State Fire Marshal Garrett Dyer. “We often think of the stove and the safety around that appliance, but smaller appliances such as deep fryers and microwaves can start fires that are equally as destructive.”

According to the U.S. Home Cooking Fires Report by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking caused an average of 172,900 reported home structure fires per year (49 percent of all reported home fires in the US). These fires resulted in an average of 550 civilian deaths (21 percent of all home fire deaths) and 4,820 civilian injuries (44 percent of all reported home fire injuries) annually.

Victims of Cooking Fires

In the report, it is noted that high-risk populations include those 55 years of age and older. In Virginia, 24% of the total reported civilian fire fatalities victims were between 56-80 years old.

Dyer continued, “The statistic translates to one out of four Virginians over the age of 55 are at a higher risk of a fire-related casualty or injury. Check on your neighbors that fit this category, bring them a meal from time to time. Make sure the meal is prepared using safe cooking practices. And, don’t forget to wear your mask as you enter their homes.”

People ages 25-44 are the leading age group to suffer from cooking fire injuries in U.S. homes nationwide.

Cooking Safety Tips

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove. Leaving food unattended is the leading factor in cooking fires and related casualties.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

“We hope that the message resonates before we head into the holiday season in a few weeks,” said Dyer.

Thanksgiving and Christmas Day are the leading days for cooking fires in the home.

Virginia Department of Fire Programs Receives $282,000 from Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

Virginia Department of Fire Programs Receives $282,000 from Federal Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program

Funding will support a new fire detection and suppression mobile training lab that consists of sprinkler systems and fire alarm systems.

RICHMOND – September 29, 2020 – The Virginia Department of Fire Programs (VDFP) has been awarded $282,000 in federal grant funding through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s 2019 Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program. The funding will be used to construct a fire detection and suppression mobile training lab that will be used for fire service personnel who respond to and depend on these systems when engaged in firefighting activity.

The new mobile training lab will consist of functional sprinkler systems, an operating alarm and detection systems, as well as displays of fire alarm control panels that will represent a wide range of technology and capabilities that replicate generic types of fire alarm systems throughout the state.

“Our response and preparation efforts are more vital now, than ever before,” said Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “The construction of this fire detection and suppression mobile lab will yield valuable data for all Virginia public safety personnel as they work together to respond to emergencies in our communities.”

“The Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office wants to bridge the training and development gap from in-person classroom instruction of the Fire Inspector training program that is designed to teach a basic understanding of life safety systems, to a hands on learning experience,“ said State Fire Marshal Garrett Dyer. “The mobile concept will allow VDFP to transport the mobile lab to various locations within the state.”

“Federal funding is critical to the agency’s training programs, as we do our best to sustain already underfunded firefighter training programs in the Commonwealth,” said VDFP Executive Director Michael Reilly. “To be awarded funding during the pandemic, as organizations have become more fiscally conservative means a great deal to our training operations. Every dollar counts.”

This marks the sixth year in a row that VDFP has obtained federal funding for the Commonwealth’s firefighter training programs. Since 2016, VDFP has been awarded approximately $1.5 million dollars.

The agency will provide $42,300 in matching funds and has 12 months to complete the purchases under the grant.