Captain Eric Leonard of the Depoe Bay Fire District was recently awarded the Oregon Fire Chief’s Association Award of Excellence for his dedication and commitment to the fire services and communities he serves.
Leonard was nominated for this award by Fire Chief Bryan Daniels for his conduct in organizing a joint career firefighter recruit academy, the first of its kind in Lincoln County.
As the Oregon coast is speckled with combination fire agencies, it is common to have firefighter academies and other classes hosted at agencies throughout the region. However, the districts were faced with a new challenge last winter with the hiring of six firefighters representing three different agencies — Depoe Bay Fire hired three career firefighters, North Lincoln Fire & Rescue hired two career firefighters and Newport Fire hired one career firefighter. All the districts benefitted from the automatic aid agreements and intergovernmental agreements over the past two years, and the creation of a joint orientation academy was talked about for many months. But the agencies all varied in schedule, responses and operations, so with no one heading up the creation of the academy, Leonard made the decision to do it himself and volunteered for the task.
Leonard took on the three-month design and task of the first ever Lincoln County “tower.” He created this with no additional pay and at a large cost saving to all three agencies. He developed a curriculum, schedule, instructor pool and sites for the coming four-week academy. As all of the recruits had prior experience, the academy was accelerated in format. Leonard developed a physical training program, nutrition plan, training in firefighter survival, auto extrication, fire attack, rescue, hazmat, EMS, leadership, communication and mental health and legal topics. He also arranged for outside instructors and relied on industry experts to assist him.
Depoe Bay Fire Chief Bryan Daniels said, “Captain Leonard embodies the spirit of the fire service as a fire service leader making it better. The recognition from the Oregon Fire Chief’s Association is well deserved.”