Honoring Outstanding Achievements on the Fireground

On Saturday, November 23, the Spring Fire Department honored firefighters who went above and beyond for the citizens of Spring in 2019.
Five exceptional people were honored with Spring Firefighter of the Year Awards. Chosen from each shift, as well as from the volunteer and part-time ranks, these firefighters set the example of how a public servant should be.

A Shift District Chief Kevin Wiseman presenting firefighter Bradley Whitlock his firefighter of the year award while holding Whitlock’s daughter.

A Shift’s firefighter of the year is Bradley Whitlock. B Shift’s firefighter of the Year is Michael Villarreal. C Shift’s firefighter of the year is Ryan Rebarcak, who also serves as the department’s Health and Wellness Coordinator.

C Shift District Chief Jimmy Stewart presenting firefighter Ryan Rebarcak with the C Shift Firefighter of the Year Award.

The 2019 honor for volunteer firefighter of the year went to Marc Corbeil, who is a Lone Star College math professor when not responding to 9-1-1 calls in Spring. Captain David Paige was honored as Spring’s Part-time Firefighter of the Year.

Volunteer District Chief Shawn Babendure presenting Volunteer Firefighter of the Year Marc Corbeil with his award.

All four Spring Fire District Chiefs presenting Captain David Paige (center) with his Part-time Firefighter of the Year award.

Special Awards were handed out for four significant events that Spring firefighters worked in 2019.

Trench Rescue

On May 14, 2019, the Spring Fire Department Rescue Team was dispatched to assist the Klein Volunteer Fire Department with a trench collapse, which left one man trapped up to nearly his waist. Once appropriate shoring elements were placed for safety, the arduous digging process continued for several hours until the victim was freed.

“The rescue team members who worked inside the trench to help free the victim received the Silver Life Saving medal,” said Spring Fire Chief Scott Seifert. “Those who supported their actions from the ground level received the exceptional duty commendation.”

The Silver Life Saving Medal is awarded only to those principally involved in saving the life of another person and whose personal actions were directly responsible for the lifesaving act.

On Saturday night, Captain Hamilton Ledkins, Apparatus Operator Kevin Wise, and firefighters Michael Villarreal and Cameron Warnock received both Silver Life Saving Medals and Exceptional Duty Commendations.

Captain Hamilton Ledkins receiving his Silver Life Saving Award.

This Exceptional Duty Commendation is awarded to a member of the department for a highly credible accomplishment bringing public acclaim to the department, or fire service, as a result of devotion to duty or service to the public. Also receiving commendations are District Chief Chris vonWiesenthal, Captain Shannon Stryk and firefighters Jeremy Cobb, Logan Hall and Jason Wal.

District Chief Chris vonWiesenthal, firefighter Logan Hall, Captain Ledkins and firefighter Jason Wal receiving their Exceptional Duty Commendations.

House Fire Entrapment

On September 3, 2019, Spring Fire Department crews were dispatched to a Spring Lakes house fire where someone was trapped inside. Upon arrival, Engine 73’s crew entered a second-floor bedroom window to rescue the trapped woman. Captain Paige ascended a ground ladder and broke out a window to reach the woman and pull her to safety.

Firefighters Jonathan Hart and Jordan Hendricks assisted Captain Paige down the ladder. Quickly transported to the hospital by Cypress Creek EMS, the woman was able to make a full recovery.

Captain David Paige (left), who received the Silver Lifesaving Medal and firefighter Jordan Hendricks receiving the Meritorious Unit Award.

Captain Paige was honored with the Silver Life Saving Medal and joined Apparatus Operator Kevin Jennings and firefighters Jonathan Hart and Jordan Hendricks in receiving the Meritorious Unit Award.

Tropical Storm Imelda

On September 19, 2019, Heavy Utility 70 responded to a flooding emergency during tropical storm Imelda in Eastern Montgomery County.

“For over 12 hours straight, a Spring Fire crew of two evacuated over 100 residents to safety under extreme flood conditions,” said Spring Fire Chief Scott Seifert. “For this devotion to service, firefighters Santiago Eckardt and Lewis Rougeou received Exceptional Duty Commendations.”

District Chief Jimmy Stewart presenting firefighter Lewis Rougeou with an Exceptional Duty Commendation.

Motel 6 Fire

On October 9, 2019, the Spring Fire Department was dispatched to a hotel on fire at the Motel 6 near I-45 and Cypresswood. Upon arrival, the crew of Engine 77 found multiple people trapped on the third floor hanging out of windows.

“If this hotel fire had occurred 6 months earlier it could have had a completely different outcome,” said Seifert.

Due to the Harris County Emergency Services District 7 board approving the hiring three additional personnel that were not initially funded in 2019, the Spring Fire Department was able to staff all nine of our fire stations beginning in August.
“Why is that important?, asked Seifert . “Because there would have been no one staffing Station 77 and Station 71’s crew was training at Station 78, so the two closest fire stations wouldn’t have been able respond immediately. That ESD funding decision allowed Engine 77 to be staffed and arrive on scene quickly that fateful day.”

Engine 77 crew brought five civilians down on ladders in a matter of minutes. Honored with the Silver Life Saving Medal were Captain Jermaine Wilson and firefighters Shawn Kohl, Nathan Smith and Christopher Soliz.

A Shift District Chief Kevin Wiseman presenting firefighter Shawn Kohl, Captain Jermaine Wilson and firefighter Nathan Smith with the Silver Life Saving Medal (left to right).

“At this same incident, Deputy Chief Jerod Davenport spotted a man preparing to jump from a third story window to escape heavy smoke,” said Seifert.” “Deputy Chief Davenport grabbed firefighter Jeff Paige and threw an extension ladder to the third floor where firefighter Rodger Hernandez assisted with bringing the victim down the ladder. For their efforts in saving this life, Chief Davenport and firefighters Paige and Hernandez are awarded the Silver Life Saving Medal.”

Firefighter Jeff Paige and Deputy Chief Jerod Davenport with their Silver Life Saving Medal (left to right).

“Assistant Chief Robert Logan and Deputy Chief Davenport’s leadership, level of calmness and actions on that day as incident commanders led to multiple rescues,” added Seifert. “If these officers had not be on scene the outcome may have been fatal for a civilian or a firefighter but due to their actions, everyone went home like they were supposed to.”

For their successful leadership, Logan and Davenport were awarded
Exceptional Duty Commendations.

Before the night was over, former Fire Chiefs had received their badges. Pins honored Lifetime Members, 25, 15, 10 and 5 members were handed out and

Deputy Chief of Training Joel Crenshaw receiving his 25 years of service pin.

Sixteen Spring Fire Department employees and volunteers received five-year service pins, including HR Director Steve Kiebzak, Captains John Irwin, Walter Juarez, David Paige, Noel Webber and Larry Wilkinson; Apparatus Operators Michael Alaniz and Kevin Wise; and firefighters Cedric Allen, Colby Bates, Gary Bowker, Aaron Chaplin, Kyle Fisher, William Lara, Stoney Parker, Kevin Price, Richard Rakus, and Ryan Rebarcak.

Volunteer Fernando Martinez receiving his 10 years of service pin. Not pictured, Mark Hutchison who also was honored with a 10 years of service pin.

Captain Rocky Langone and Volunteer Firefighter Randy Sandell receiving their 15 years of service pins.

Fire Chief’s Award

Every year Fire Chief’s Award goes to an incredible person whose commitment makes the department a better place for staff, volunteers and the Spring community.

For 44 years, the Spring Fire Department functioned with only volunteers. For the next 16 years, part-time firefighters joined the department. In 2013, Spring Fire began an ambitious hiring process to hire enough full-time firefighters to be able to staff nine stations by 2020. In those six years, we have hired 87 full-time firefighters who had to be trained to the highest level.

“The person I chose to receive this year’s Fire Chief’s Award was instrumental in starting our Spring Fire New Hire Academy and has continued to improve it with each new class of cadets,” said Seifert. “The new hire training academy has grown from one week to three solid weeks of instruction under Captain Noel Webber’s leadership. Captain Webber is the recipient of this year’s Fire Chief’s Award because he is exactly what I am looking for from everyone within our department.”