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The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is pleased to announce the winners of its 2021 Annual Fire Service Achievement Awards.

NVFC’s awards recipients

Theodore Schroll Jr. will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by ADT, Robert James will receive the Chief James P. Seavey Sr. Health and Wellness Leadership Award, co-sponsored by VFIS and Ward Diesel Filter Systems, Paige Davis will receive the Junior Firefighter of the Year Award, sponsored by California Casualty, and the Colonia Volunteer Fire Department Explorer Program will receive the Junior Firefighter Program of the Year Award, sponsored by California Casualty.

It is with great pleasure that we recognize the incredible work of our 2021 award winners"

The past year has tested our nation in many ways, but one thing we can always rely on is the dedication, resilience, and exceptional service provided by our nation’s volunteer firefighters and EMS providers,” said NVFC’s Chair Steve Hirsch.

Steve adds, “It is with great pleasure that we recognize the incredible work of our 2021 award winners and highlight the amazing achievements of those who give so much to help their communities.

2021 Annual Fire Service Achievement Awards

A celebration luncheon to honor the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement, Chief James P. Seavey Sr. Health and Wellness Leadership, and Junior Firefighter of the Year awards will take place during the NVFC’s fall meeting scheduled on October 15, 2021, in Jackson, Wyoming.

The recipient of the Junior Firefighter Program of the Year will be presented with their award at their department this fall, so that all their junior firefighters may attend.

The recipients of the NVFC’s 2021 Annual Fire Service Achievement Awards are as follows:

  • Asst. Chief Theodore ‘Ted’ Schroll Jr. - NVFC Lifetime Achievement Award, sponsored by ADT

Ret. Asst. Chief Ted Schroll has never ‘just belonged’ to anything that he has been involved with. He is a dedicated fire service volunteer and works hard on any assignment, to make things better. Ted joined Wethersfield Fire Department in 1960, in Connecticut, working his way up from Firefighter to Acting Chief, and his energy and dedication are just as strong in 2021.

Active member of the fire services

Although, Ted Schroll retired as Acting Chief in 1999, he remains an active member of the fire department. He has shared his knowledge within his local department, the Connecticut State Firefighters Association (CSFA), and at the Connecticut State Capitol.

Ted Schroll has served in all the executive positions for the state association, as well as served as CSFA’s legislative representative for over 25 years. Due to his thorough understanding of the legislative process, he was able to represent CSFA without missing a beat, during the COVID-19 pandemic and switch to online meetings.

CSFA and the fire service representative

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ted Schroll spent countless hours at the state capitol, representing CSFA and the fire service

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ted Schroll spent countless hours at the state capitol, representing CSFA and the fire service. He has been aggressive to secure not only legislation, but also funding for construction and rehabilitation of Connecticut’s regional fire schools.

He was instrumental, along with Chief John McAuliffe, in securing state legislation that prohibits career departments from forbidding their employees from volunteering in the communities that they live in. Due to his legislative expertise, he has been a resource to many other state fire associations, as well as the NVFC for legislative questions or concerns.

CSFA’s Assistant Secretary

Ted Schroll also currently serves as CSFA’s Assistant Secretary and Credentials Committee Chair. He is pivotal in organizing the yearly convention and makes it a family affair with his wife, children, and even grandson assisting the credentials committee at the convention.

He was inducted into the Connecticut State Firefighters Hall of Fame in 2010. In addition to his work in the fire service, Ted served active duty in the United States Air Force until 1960 and is a past President of the New England Section of the International Municipal Signalman's Association (IMSA). Schroll has exemplified commitment and dedication to the fire service on the local, state, and national levels for over 61 years and will continue to do so for many more.

  • Captain Robert ‘RJ’ James - NVFC Chief James P. Seavey Sr. Health and Wellness Leadership Award, co-sponsored by VFIS and Ward Diesel Filter Systems

Captain Robert James is a 20-year veteran of the fire service. He started as a volunteer firefighter with the Cromwell Fire Department, before relocating to Maryland, where he joined the Rockville Volunteer Fire Department (RVFD), one of the busiest fire stations in Montgomery County.

Mentor to young firefighters and EMTs

In addition to volunteering, Robert James is a full time employee of the Frederick County Fire Rescue (FCFR) Division, Rescue Squad 3, where he leads the Advanced Technical Rescue Team.  In July 2021 he was promoted to lieutenant.

As a volunteer, Robert James has received numerous citations and awards from the RVFD and the State of Maryland. He hit the ground running, receiving his first award on his first week on the job, after making a life-saving rescue. His service and dedication have not slowed since. He is a mentor to young firefighters and EMTs, making safety his top priority.

Rescue and hazardous materials operations expert

Robert James is an expert in many areas, including firefighter survival and rescue and hazardous materials operations

Robert James is an expert in many areas, including firefighter survival and rescue and hazardous materials operations, but he is especially proficient in technical rescue and trench operations. He uses his extensive knowledge and skill to mentor new recruits and seasoned professionals.

He takes the utmost care in teaching them the necessary skills, while at the same time making their personal safety the primary factor in every aspect of his training programs. Robert travels across the country to teach, train and mentor. In his spare time, he has a podcast, where he discusses best practices for firefighter safety.

Commitment to craft and training

Because of Robert James’ commitment to his craft and the training that he provides, his fellow firefighters are safer and smarter, which allows them to better deal with the incidents that they face. It also makes them safer and better able to protect themselves now, so as to prevent physical or heath issues later in life.

Robert James is a natural leader, which is why he is such a successful firefighter, EMT, trainer, and mentor. He is an inspiration to all who know him and always has his fellow firefighters’ safety and wellness at the forefront of everything he does.

  • Paige Davis - NVFC Junior Firefighter of the Year, sponsored by California Casualty

 ‘Servant Leadership’ was the title of one of Paige Davis’ recent speeches to her cadets, and that leadership philosophy is befitting for her. She is the first to step up, help, pitch-in, and teach, even if there is no recognition. Davis always cheers for her competition, does the right thing, and acts with honesty and integrity. 

Bartlett Hackberry Township Fire Department’s junior program

When Paige Davis joined the junior program at Bartlett Hackberry Township Fire Department (Bartlett, KS), on her 12th birthday, it was amid a major transition of juniors graduating into regular firefighter positions. This gap created the need for someone to step up and learn to lead, and she answered that call.

Throughout this period, the community suffered from a prolific arsonist and experienced several of the worst fires in its history. Keeping safety at the forefront, Paige Davis and other juniors were called upon to assist the department in many ways, during this intense time, until the arsonist was caught. She then helped the junior program transition back from ‘busy’ to ‘normal’, by keeping members active and involved.

Cadet & Junior Apprentice Firefighter Program lead

She has led the fire department’s Cadet & Junior Apprentice Firefighter Program since 2019

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything changed once again, Paige Davis was a vital force in helping the fire department respond to the new challenges. She has led the fire department’s Cadet & Junior Apprentice Firefighter Program since 2019.

Paige is also actively involved in many department activities, including training, mentoring, and recruiting cadets, installing smoke detectors, assisting with fire prevention education, maintaining the department’s PPE inventory tracking system, and managing department technology, including Active911, group chats, and video meetings.

Active member of Advisory Board

She is also a member of an advisory board that is developing a 25-year plan for the department’s future. Even off-duty, Paige Davis always does what she can to help others. On May 10, 2020, her quick actions saved the life of a toddler who was wondering in the middle of a roadway, when she and her father were driving by.

She is actively involved in organizations that work to strengthen and reinforce a sense of community, responsibility, and service, including 4H, FFA, and Civil Air Patrol. As an incoming high school senior, accomplished athlete, and barrel racer with world standings, she encourages others to be involved with their communities during her travels.

  • Colonia Fire Department Explorer Program - NVFC Junior Firefighter Program of the Year, sponsored by California Casualty

Colonia Fire Department’s Explorer Post

The Colonia Fire Department’s Explorer Post is a vibrant, long-running program that has provided numerous benefits to the fire department and the community. The program is also the primary source of new members for the department, with many of the current members being former explorers.

The explorers learn firefighting methods, equipment, and apparatus through training and drills. By participating in community service activities, these young people have become ambassadors of their community and the department, as they prepare for college and life after high school.

Ohio Youth Fire & EMS Training Academy (OYFETA)

For the past 11 years, the Colonia explorers have participated in the Ohio Youth Fire & EMS Training Academy (OYFETA)

For the past 11 years, the Colonia explorers have participated in the Ohio Youth Fire & EMS Training Academy (OYFETA), a week-long event that takes place at Hocking College in Nelsonville, Ohio. Taking a group of teenagers, raised in New Jersey, to a rural college campus several hundred miles away and embedding them with a similar group of teenagers from Ohio and other states, has helped them develop communication skills and behaviors expected of older young adults.

Department leaders, academy staff, and parents have consistently said that attendees have returned as responsible teenagers, with improved outlooks on life and education, along with enhanced social and behavioral skills, and a recognition that effort results in success and reward. They quickly learn to behave like a firefighter, work collectively as a team, support those that fall behind, and learn from those who know more. 

Colonia Fire Department’s Junior Fire Academy program

In addition, the Colonia Fire Department’s Junior Fire Academy program is a recruitment/community activity that highlights the OYFETA attendees. Designed to spur interest in the Explorer program, 7th and 8th grade students are invited to experience the physical skills and activities of a firefighter over two days. OYFETA graduates are paired with firefighters to serve as instructors.

The success of the Colonia Explorer program has led to other fire departments seeking out their assistance, in creating or improving their own junior/Explorer programs. However, the greatest measure of the program’s success can be seen in the substantial number of former Explorers who are now in full-time fire and emergency services positions, in communities in New Jersey and across the country.

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Extensive internal alternations More than 60 WES alarm units were deployed across the site, to move with the flow of the project Similarly, the restoration of Bolton Albert Hall completed by contractor Willmott Dixon required extensive internal alternations while the building was still occupied by Bolton City Council, so a system of more than five WES alarm call points and heat detectors were deployed in the refurbishment areas. For projects that span long periods of time, such as the £30m renovation at Nottingham Castle by G.F Tomlinson – which lasted three years – or the six-year conversion project at Donaldson’s – a Grade A listed former school in the center of Edinburgh – by City & Country, having a system that can be scaled up or down quickly without the need for time-consuming wired installation is a must. Needing immediate notifications In Edinburgh, more than 60 WES alarm units were deployed across the site, to move with the flow of the project. 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