MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni’s fire station received the Navy-Marine Corps Small Fire Department of the Year Award for 2011. Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, Marine Corps Installations Pacific commanding general, presented the award at the station fire house, Jan. 25, 2013.
“As the commanding general, I feel it is imperative that I personally take the opportunity to recognize the Iwakuni Fire Department's exemplary performance,” said Talleri. “It was an honor to recognize a group of courageous professionals for their sustained superior efforts. MCAS Iwakuni should be extremely proud of their firefighters.”
The station fire department won at the Navy-Marine Corps level, which is the second highest. The highest is at the Department of Defense level.
“It’s a competition that runs every year between Navy, Marine Corps and DoD,” said Devin Johnston-Lee, station fire chief. “They look at a series of different categories, your accomplishments, training and impact to the community.”
Some of their accomplishments include being the first department to have 100 percent certification in hazardous materials and chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosives (CBRNE) training and having the highest percentage test scores in the training circuit done by master labor contractor (MLC) firefighters in a second language.
“We have the most aggressive training program within DoD,” said Johnston-Lee. “We invited the local departments for training in Operation Tomodachi, for the localized response teams in Japan.”
Johnston-Lee also said several teams from western Japan that went to Tomodachi, were trained and certified in heavy search and rescue at this station.
In addition to the station’s response to the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, they responded to the 2005 tsunamis in Indonesia and Thailand and provided training after the Kobe earthquake in 1995.
“Many of these firefighters have been here as long as I’ve been coming to Iwakuni and I know exactly how good they are,” said Col. James C. Stewart, MCAS Iwakuni commanding officer. “They’ve been protecting our community and training all of the fire departments all the way from Tokyo to Osaka.”
Once Talleri and Stewart presented the award, they shook hands with all the firefighters and were given a tour of the station’s vehicles and equipment.
“It’s easy to sleep ever so peacefully at night because I know these men are manning the watch every day,” said Stewart.
This is the first time under Johnston-Lee’s command that the fire station accomplished this feat. The last time the station earned this honor was in 1999.