Firefighters from the Marine Corps Logistics Base fight fires in Barstow and the surrounding area. They pull crash victims out of cars crunched on Interstate 15 and 40, assist in wildland fire fighting throughout the state, and provide CPR training to community members.
The Department of Defense took notice of their work and named the MCLB Barstow Fire and Emergency Services Division the best large fire department in the defense department and the fire department with the best fire prevention program for 2007. The MCLB department stood out over about 375 fire departments worldwide in all branches of the military, said MCLB Assistant Chief of Operations Tom Thompson.
Each year, the competing fire departments are judged by an independent panel of fire service professionals chosen by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, according to a defense department publication on the awards.
The defense department cited, among other accomplishments, the fact that MCLB firefighters had saved 20 homes while fighting wildland fires, assisted other departments on 72 structure fires in the course of the year, extricated 30 patients from vehicles, and provided free CPR training to base personnel, high school students and teachers from Barstow.
Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention Terry Jenkins said one of his points of pride in the prevention program is the fact that there has not been a fire that caused significant property damage on-base since 1996. The prevention program deals with public education, fire hazard inspections and code compliance.
Jenkins said he was in shock when he found that the department had won top honors in two categories during the Aug. 15 awards ceremony in Denver, Colo.
“The first one, we all jumped up,” he said. “The second one, my wife actually had to push me in the back to get me to stand up — I was in that much shock.”
The MCLB fire department has won best large fire department in the U.S. Marine Corps two out of the past three years, but this is the first time the department has won best in the entire Department of Defense, Thompson said.
The victory is an even sweeter because the MCLB has one of the smallest of the large fire departments, he said, with about 60 firefighters and two stations, while some other departments have as many as 13 stations. Fire departments with four engine companies or more are considered large departments for purposes of the competition.
Base commander Col. Kenneth Enzor said because many of the fire department staff live in Barstow and many of the department’s calls are off-base mutual aid calls, the award is an honor to the community as a whole. He credited the firefighters and the leadership of the department, including Chief Robert Wyman, with keeping the department quietly working at a superior level.
West Coast 911 firefighting news source – Desert Dispatch