Captain (Ret.) Michael M. Dugan of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) is the recipient of the 2020-2021 Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award. The award was presented on Thursday at the FDIC International 2021 Opening Ceremony in Indianapolis.
Dugan started in the fire service in 1973 in the Halesite (NY) Volunteer Fire Department. He began his 27-year career in the FDNY as a firefighter in Ladder 137. As a probie, he was transferred to Ladder 43 in Spanish Harlem. As a firefighter, he received the James Gordon Bennett Medal in 1992 and the Harry M. Archer Medal in 1993, the FDNY’s highest award for bravery. As a lieutenant, Dugan served in Ladder 42 in the South Bronx. He was promoted in 2000 and ended up serving as the captain of Ladder 123 in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, until retiring. He has been involved with the fire service for more than 45 years. He is an instructor and an educational advisory board member of FDIC International and an author and editorial advisory board member of Fire Engineering. He lectures around the country on truck company operations, building construction, size-up, and today’s fire service.
FDIC International Education Director Bobby Halton says about this year’s selection: “It would be hard to find someone with a richer life to recognize than Mike Dugan. From winning the two highest awards for bravery in the FDNY to providing world-class education to the fire service and public sectors, he has always been the first to show up and the last to leave. Mike’s personal life is equally as impressive; his family can attest to thousands of folks who call Mike their friend, and with good cause. Never one to forget a friend or abandon those in need, Mike Dugan epitomizes what it means to be a firefighter, a gentleman, a friend, and a patriot.”
Thomas Richardson, chief of operations for FDNY: “Mike devoted his professional life to the fire service; in particular, he had a passion for training firefighters. As the captain of L-123, I always admired how Mike took pride in training and developing all of his members,
especially the probationary firefighters. He was an excellent teacher and held his people to a high standard of performance. Many of his members went on to become line officers and chiefs in the FDNY and others went on to work in our rescue and squad companies, our most elite units. They were all able to progress in their careers largely due to the training they received as young firefighters by Mike Dugan.”
John Salka, battalion chief (ret), FDNY: “Mike was a well-known and respected captain in the FDNY, and he worked in several of the busiest and best companies. His dedication to and love for the FDNY and the work that we do is unparalleled. He was known as a smart and courageous firefighter and officer and he was cited several times for bravery and was awarded two FDNY medals during his career. Mike has also worked as a fire instructor locally and throughout the country and has an equally amazing reputation with firefighters around the country.”
Rick Lasky, chief (ret.), Lewisville (TX) Fire Department: “There are very few people in life that you can consider a dear friend, a mentor, a confidante, and a brother. Captain Mike Dugan is all of those things wrapped up in one person. Anytime I have ever needed a person to talk to, a shoulder to lean on, or a true and blunt answer to something, Mike has always been there for me. Congratulations! This is so well deserved!”
Philip Paff, station officer, Queensland Fire & Rescue, Australia: “Dugan is a Mack truck powered by a bulldozer engine. Even in retirement Mike is unrelenting in spreading the word of honoring our profession, the privilege of serving, and the critical importance that training plays in this service and to our very own safety. He is acutely aware of the price that comes with this job. Now, more than ever, we are in an era where people wish to be measured by what they say and not what they have done. Mike Dugan is not one of those people—he is authentic. It is through his actions that he may be measured. The fact that his reach has extended beyond the North American fire sService all the way to Down Under is evidence in itself.”
Mike Gagliano, captain (ret.), Seattle (WA) Fire Department: “Michael is the image in my mind when I think of a ‘fire service officer.’ He is a firefighter at his core and a leader in all he does. His lifetime of achievement is distinctive in that most of his accomplishments have been made on the behalf of others. He is an incredible example of the idea of living a life that is ‘other-centered’ and focused on matters of true consequence and substance. It is what distinguishes truly great individuals and elevates them to that sacred place of being ‘someone we would gladly follow.’ Mike has been to the fires and crawled the smoky halls. He has displayed the courage necessary to proudly wear our badge. His commitment to honing his skills and sharing the craft are an inspiration. And his love and devotion to his family are a testament to a man who knows what matters most and lives a life dedicated to seeing those things get his best. We are all blessed to have him at the front of our fire service, leading the charge. Salute!”