By Shannon Pieper
Published Sunday, July 15, 2012
| From the August 2012 Issue of FireRescue
Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Travis Benne, station chief with Andersen Fire and Emergency Services in Guam, has been named FireRescue magazine’s 2012 Company Officer of the Year. The award, sponsored by CommandSim, producers of industry-leading fire training simulation software, will be presented at the IAFC’s 2012 Fire-Rescue International conference in Denver on Aug. 4.
Sergeant Benne has been involved in the fire service since high school, when he began volunteering with the Fort Calhoun (Neb.) Fire Department, where he earned his Eagle Scout award. He enlisted in the Air Force and graduated from the Louis F. Garland Fire Academy at Goodfellow AFB, Texas.
Sergeant Benne was recognized for his excellent fire service leadership, commitment to safety and preparedness, and dedication to professional development. He holds a master’s degree in Executive Fire Service Leadership and was one of the first in the United States Air Force’s Fire Protection career field to complete the Professional Development certification through FEMA's Emergency Management Institute.
His nomination read in part, “Travis believes that being a company officer is the core of the fire department. He considers the job to be more than ‘riding in the front seat’ of a truck and telling people what to do. He feels it is an opportunity to mentor those who will eventually replace him as he continues to progress in his career.”
FireRescue editor-in-chief Tim Sendelbach noted that Benne’s nomination closely matched the award criteria. “FireRescue is honored to recognize Travis Benne, an officer who represents the vision and mission of FireRescue magazine,” Sendelbach says. “Travis is an officer who leads by example, an officer who’s willing to speak up and push for change while setting the example and being a mentor for those who follow. It’s an honor and a privilege to recognize Travis for his achievements.”
Some of those recent accomplishments include:
- As shift training leader, Benne developed a way of tracking personnel continuing education units for the entire department, allowing the executive staff to identify shortfalls in the needed training areas to maintain their firefighting and EMS certifications.
- Since arriving in Guam, he has worked on a team to develop a new vehicle backing procedures and spot possible danger zones within the department’s apparatus stalls that could injure or kill firefighters guiding vehicles as they are backed into the station.
- Benne authored his department’s first Standard of Coverage, Risk Assessment, and Goals and Objectives, which provided the foundation of the department’s latest five-year strategic plan.
- In the past year, Benne has worked with more than 10 new firefighters to develop them and work toward the next step of being certified driver/operators.
“Travis is 100% committed to safety to ensure everyone goes home,” the award nomination said. “At a previous assignment … his efforts to study the risks and hazards to the military installation and neighboring communities identified the need to add a three-engine company … This ensured the department could meet its mandated response times, meet the requirements laid out in the NFPA 1710 standard, and have additional manpower available to increase the safety on the fireground while continuing to support the Air Force’s flying mission.”
While serving in various fire protection positions at bases throughout the United States and South Korea since 2003, Benne has also been deployed four times as a firefighter to support Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. He has received the Air Force Commendation Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Achievement Medal with Valor Device with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Army Achievement Medal, and the Military Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal.
Benne regularly works as a public educator for home and workplace fire safety. He leads a family reading night at the Andersen Air Force Base Elementary School, serves as a merit badge instructor for the Boy Scout Troop on base, and serves as one of the base squadron’s CPR instructors.
”We are proud to be a part of recognizing Sergeant Benne for his accomplishments in promoting a culture of safety and training,” says Jonathan Kaye, PhD, president of CommandSim, sponsor of the 2012 Company Officer of the Year Award. “His behavior, and that of the other nominees, inspires us to develop the most appropriate training aides we can to support their commitment to their community.”
Kaye also announced that CommandSim would provide a free copy of the company’s new training simulation product, SimsUShare Mobile/Desktop, to all of the nominees for this award. The Company Officer of the Year also receives a $1,000 cash award and airfare, accommodations and registration to Fire-Rescue International.
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