Firefighters earn awards
Pueblo West firefighters work tirelessly to protect and serve the community.
Each year, a handful of firefighters are recognized for their special efforts and work at an annual awards dinner.
“We continue to do this because it’s a big boost and a thank you from the administration back to the staff for everybody who volunteers their time and to their families,” said Brad Davidson, division chief and public information officer for the Pueblo West Fire Department.
“We really couldn’t do it without the families.”
In June the annual dinner was a time for all the firefighters – both paid and volunteer, as well as support staff – to come together, along with their families, and get an extra pat on the back for all they do.
Some of the awards given are nomination style, such as career firefighter of the year and resident firefighter of the year, and other awards are achievement awards.
Bobby Hernandez was named career firefighter of the year. He started with the Pueblo West Fire Department in 2007. Mike Bower was named resident (volunteer) firefighter of the year, after starting with the department in 2013.
“Bobby goes above and beyond when he’s on duty to help his shift to trainings, and he helps a lot of resident firefighters,” Davidson said.
“When residents come on they have a task book to complete and he goes above and beyond in helping them work on and complete tasks.
“Mike is now a full-time firefighter for us, but when he was a resident he was in here doing extra hours all the time,” Davidson added, noting that Bower completed his task book in about six months, something that takes most residents about a year to finish.
“We took nominations for both of those awards, and then the chiefs sat down and received and agreed they were great choices,” Davidson said.
Other awards included Danny Wells, who was named support services team member of the year, and Drew Caro, who received the Educational Achievement Award.
Support service members are team members who don’t fight fires or help on medical calls, but might help run an errand during a call, assist in taking notes and other supportive services. Wells is a retired Lieutenant with the department who has stayed on as a support services member.
The educational award is given to someone who goes beyond what’s expected for training, whether by going to outside training on their own time, helping others and more.
Caro earned the award for showing how much he wants to learn about fire service and for continued education.
“We feel from the administration level that it’s so important to recognize our staff,” Davidson said.
“They do work a lot of hours, and you never know when a call is going to come in. We feel it’s important to bring them all together because we are a big family. Show our support and appreciation for everything they’ve done.
“Those are hours that these guys are gone from home, their family members and missing things.”
Davidson said that resident firefighters are required to put in at least 72 hours a month.
They sign up for shifts in 8, 10, 12 or 24-hour increments.
Many resident firefighters have full-time or part-time jobs that they work, with the fire department as an added side job.
“They do it because they want to give back to the community,” Davidson said. “There’s a need that you just want to go out and show your skills and have that feeling that you’ve helped.”
The department got about 2,500 calls last year.
The leading reason for calls are traffic and medical, and in addition to fighting fires, the department members also help with hazardous materials, give public assistance to those in need, provide extra services like bike patrol during the annual kids’ fishing derby, EMT service at Pueblo West High School football games and more.