Camp Butler fire department takes top honors
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan -- Marine Corps Installations Pacific and Marine Corps Base Camp Butler Fire and Emergency Services received the 2011 Large Fire Department of the Year award for the Marine Corps Jan. 17.
“This is not my award,” said Scott S. Minakami, the regional fire chief for the department. “It’s the entire department’s award.”
Before Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, the commanding general of MCIPAC and MCB Camp Butler, presented the award, he spoke of the department’s high-quality service, which earned it the award.
“Today is a big day, and hopefully you are all standing a little bit taller,” said Talleri. “You have a reason to smile because you have accomplished something that the rest of the Marine Corps and your community will be both jealous and proud of.”
Talleri added that it was an honor to present the award and recognize all of the department’s accomplishments.
“Whether it is disasters here in your country, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, training or educating, your contribution is so significant, and I don’t think there is a better organization out there,” said Talleri. “I am so proud of you.”
The department previously won the Fire Prevention of the Year for the Marine Corps award in 2010, which recognized it as the best at preventing fires in the Marine Corps.
“These are two major awards two years in a row,” said Hideaki Tomimoto, a fire captain with the department. “It is an honor for all of us.”
Winning this award was especially meaningful to the department because of the multinational teamwork required to earn the award overseas, according to Minakami.
“This award shows the amount of teamwork we have,” said Minakami. “We have broken the barrier in my eyes. We have a few chiefs from the U.S., but all of our firefighters are host nation firefighters. We were brought up in multinational and different cultures, but we work together so well that none of that matters.”
While there is plenty of pride within the department, it does not mean it will rest on its laurels.
“As I talk to all of the members of the team there is one thing they have in common – they all want to get better,” said Minakami. “They always tell me that it is good that people are recognizing the department, but they can always do more. It is so inspiring to see the drive all of these men have.”