Kadena Fire and Emergency Services wins three AF-level awards Published April 16, 2015 By Tech. Sgt. Alexy Saltekoff 18th Wing Public Affairs KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) -- Kadena's fire department and two of its civilian firefighters were selected recently to represent the Air Force in the upcoming Defense Department Fire and Emergency Services annual awards. The 18th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight won the Air Force Fire Department of the Year award, large category, which is awarded to the most outstanding large fire department for achieving the highest degree of excellence in mission support and fire protection management. As the best large fire department in the Air Force, Kadena Fire and Emergency Services protect the largest combat wing in Pacific Air Forces command. They are responsible for more than 80 aircraft, 7,000 buildings, 24,000 personnel, 8,000 housing units and 11,000 acres. "Kadena FES is unlike any other fire department in the Air Force," said Master Sgt. Aaron Duggins, the Kadena FES assistant chief for fire prevention. "With an average of 1,400 annual emergency responses and protecting the largest combat wing the Air Force has to offer, our firefighters are constantly reminded how truly important our job at Kadena Air Base is." Among their many accomplishments in 2014, they saved the lives of a mother and her prematurely born baby, rescued a local farmer trapped under faming equipment, and revived a car accident victim. They led fire drills for Kadena's schools and daycare facilities, raised money for the Kadena Special Olympics and led bilateral training with host nation partners. They also made international news by cutting through the roof of a concrete 18th Security Forces Squadron guard shack to rescue two trapped Airmen during a flash flood on July 9, 2014, after Typhoon Neoguri. "Our department accepts these awards with great humility," Duggins said. "To be recognized as the 2014 USAF Fire Emergency Services Flight of the Year is great, but to be recognized as the Large FES Flight is an extraordinary accomplishment and speaks to the dedication and professionalism of our firefighters." Two of the firefighters involved in the success of the Kadena fire department also won Air Force-level awards; Yuji Nakayama, the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron district chief, won the Air Force Civilian Fire Officer of the Year award, and Yutaka Higa, a 18th CES firefighter, won the Air Force Civilian Firefighter of the Year award. Both awards are given to recognize superior job performance and outstanding contributions to a DOD fire and emergency services organization "I was very surprised because I was focused on doing the day-to-day work," Nakayama said. "I am very grateful to everyone who supported me. It takes everyone's cooperation. I couldn't have achieved this award without co-workers support." Higa echoed the belief in and influence of strong teamwork. "I think I won this award because I was blessed with good colleagues and supervisors," Higa said. "I will increase the enthusiasm to work by becoming a good example for the young people." The annual DOD Fire and Emergency Services Awards Program recognizes the accomplishments and honors of DOD fire departments, fire officers and firefighters.