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Voices heard, how trust in leadership allowed firefighters to achieve success!

A fire engine is parked in the department loading bay at Beale Air Force Base

Beale firefighters stand at parade rest for an official photo at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 27, 2020. The 9th Civil Engineering Squadron firefighters are credited with receiving the Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ralph E. Sanborn, Fire Department of the Year Award for medium sized fire department across the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

A fire engine is parked in the department loading bay at Beale Air Force Base

A fire engine is parked in the department loading bay at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 27, 2020. Engines are always parked facing out so when an emergency call happens they are ready to go. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

A fire engine is parked in the department loading bay at Beale Air Force Base

A wooden American flag is mounted on the wall surrounded by patches of various fire departments that Beale firefighters have worked with, at Beale Air Force Base, California, March 27, 2020. Beale firefighters train and assist local fire departments in times of local crisis or during upgrade training. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Colville McFee)

Beale Air Force Base, Calif. --

When trust flows both ways, from Airmen to leadership, great things can be achieved. The firefighters from the 9th Civil Engineering Squadron proved this with hard work, communication and trust.

9th Civil Engineering Squadron (CES) firefighters received the Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ralph E. Sanborn, Fire Department of the Year Award for medium sized fire department across the Air Force.

“The biggest battle is to have people buy in to what the vision is, and allow us to get to this point,” said Kevin Smith, 9th CES fire chief. “It was a culmination of trust and communication and letting people be innovative.”

Across the Air Force there are different size bases, and with each base there are different sized fire departments. Beale Air Force Base has a medium sized fire department. There are currently 48 medium sized fire departments across the Air Force.

“When we found out it was surreal. We were excited, in shock and just happy that we get to share this moment with our team who really worked hard every day to better each other, train, motivate and stay ever vigilant in everything they did, ” said Michael Hulcy, 9th CES deputy fire chief. “To put it into perspective, it’s been 15 years since we have won an award from Air Combat Command and this is the first time we have won an Air Force level award.”

The award recognizes fire departments and Airmen for success and outstanding contributions to the Air Force and Department of Defense missions. To be nominated for this level award Airmen have to win in their MAJCOM, then compete against winners from other MAJCOM’s.

“We found out on my birthday, February 13, 2020 that we won the ACC award and put us in competition with other departments. At that point I knew we were going up against the best of the best, but the feeling of knowing that our department, Beale and our leadership believed in us and saw us as the best of the best was such a prideful and humbling feeling,” said Smith. “There are 60 firefighters out there working, training and constantly looking for ways to be better. All that hard work proves that their voices were heard, and a lot of times their voices haven’t been heard, and that means a lot to me.”