Services recognized on regional level
By Adriana Salas
Missile Ranger Staff Writer
The White Sands Missile Range Fire Department was recently awarded the Fire and Emergency Services Annual Central Region Award as the department of the year in the medium size category.
This is the first year the department has been recognized at a regional level.
“We were able to articulate our accomplishments better this year than in previous years,” WSMR Fire Chief Carlos Soto said.
The department was recognized for excellence in areas such as customer service, awards received within the installation, quality of life initiatives and health and safety initiatives. Last year, the department responded to 31 major vehicle accidents along U.S. highways 70 and 380.
The department was also awarded the Volunteer Protection Program Star award last year. The star award is the highest rating and is given to organizations with an effective safety and health management system. The department is the only fire department within the U.S. Army Installation Management Community (IMCOM) to receive the star award.
“It validates the hard work that firefighters accomplish on a day to day basis,” Soto said. “It validates that the installation has professional firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.”
The winner of the regional level gets to move forward to the IMCOM level, where they will compete against 17 installations. If the department wins at the IMCOM level they move forward to the Army level, and if they qualify from there, they will move forward to the final Department of Defense category.
Soto said he received notification of the award from Garrison Commander Col. Brian Michelson. Michelson was notified of the accomplishment through a letter written by the IMCOM Central Region Director Thomas Schoenbeck. In the letter, Schoenbeck congratulated the department and expressed his appreciation on the department’s efforts. WSMR Interim Garrison Deputy Director Kathryn McNeely said the award serves as a great representation for a medium installation such as WSMR.
“We’re very proud of our fire department. They just have an excellent reputation and we think they’re very innovative,” McNeely said. “They manage resources, people and equipment as efficiently and effectively as possible.
“It just starts from the top and it’s well managed.”