Dobbins Fire Department wins two awards

Firefighters from the Dobbins Air Reserve Base Fire Department enter a burning house during a training session here. The fire department recieved two Air Force Reserve Command awards this year. (Air Force photo/Don Peek)

Firefighters from the Dobbins Air Reserve Base Fire Department enter a burning house during a training session here. The fire department recieved two Air Force Reserve Command awards this year. (Air Force photo/Don Peek)

DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga., --

The Dobbins Fire Department won two command-level awards this year, including Air Force Reserve Command Civilian Firefighter of the Year and Best Fire Prevention Program of the Year. 

"I am extremely proud of all the winners and the programs that they manage. Since 2001, we have won an award in one category or another every year," said Dobbins Fire Department Chief John Hicks. 

Dobbins Firefighter Stephen Schlange won the AFRC Civilian Firefighter of the Year award for his knowledge, skills and motivation. One of the reasons he was nominated by his supervisors is because he is highly respected by his peers and subordinates, said Chief Hicks. Mr. Schlange is also revered as a solid teacher. 

"It is an honor to receive this award.  Without the professionalism and brotherhood of all those in the department, I wouldn't have received a thing," Mr. Schlange said. 

One example of Mr. Schlange's leadership ability was observed during a Department of Homeland Security exercise where his decision making and knowledge of hazardous materials led to a successful completion of the scenarios. On many other occasions, Mr. Schlange not only led Dobbins crews through emergency calls, but also successfuly directed crews from two other local agencies. 

"These awards are important to all of us in the fire department because they shed light on the high quality of people we have," Mr. Schlange said. "The Dobbins Fire Department strives to set the standard throughout the command and the entire Air Force." 

The department was also awarded AFRC's Best Fire Prevention Program of the Year, which was managed by Assistant Chief Bill Wilson and Inspector Mark Berkenmeier. The two spearheaded an aggressive fire prevention program which included an initiative to reduce outdated inventory and comprehensive fire inspections for 155 different facilities, totaling more than 7.9 million square feet. 

The program was also able to initiate and track corrective actions for 350 of the fire hazards or deficiencies found in the inspections, said Chief Hicks. 

"The cornerstones that have enabled our fire prevention program to be a huge success are: proactive and aggressive code enforcement, comprehensive fire inspections and great engineering design reviews," Assistant Chief Wilson said. "We had great focus and attention to detail." 

The program established a consolidated emergency dispatch center that combined dispatchers in fire services and security to one location, improving the information flow for all first responders and on-scene commanders. The center is the first in AFRC and only one of six in the entire Air Force. 

"I truly believe we have demonstrated to the rest of the command, the quality of people we have assigned here at Dobbins and how much we care. Our guys get it done everyday, no matter what the tasking is, and I believe our community involvement is the best in the Air Force Reserve Command," said Chief Hicks.