CAMP ZAMA, Japan – For the third year in a row, Installation Management Command – Pacific has recognized U.S. Army Garrison Japan Fire and Emergency Services as the best large fire department in the region.
In addition, IMCOM-Pacific named J.D. Felty, regional deputy fire chief, USAG Japan Fire and Emergency Services, the best fire officer in the region, and Yu Mori, a USAG Japan firefighter who works at Camp Zama, the best civilian firefighter in the region.
“We have many top-notch personnel within USAG Japan’s Fire and Emergency Services that are deserving of recognition,” said Frank Wombwell, regional fire chief, USAG Japan. “The Pacific Large Department of the Year Award recognizes everyone’s contributions. Our individual award winners stand out above the rest.”
The DoD holds the Fire and Emergency Services Annual Firefighter Awards worldwide, and this year’s competition was based on departments’ performances during 2019. The USAG Japan fire department had a busy year responding to emergencies, saving lives, training and conducting public outreach, according to the department’s nominating memorandums.
The department is located at seven post locations over 930 square miles throughout Japan, and not only did the department mitigate 530 emergencies, there were no lives lost in the 148 medical emergencies they responded to, according to department statistics.
Felty, who retired from the active-duty Air Force after 30 years as a firefighter, began working for the Army at Camp Zama as a civilian firefighter in November 2017.
“I like the people, the job as a whole, and Japan,” Felty said.
One of the department’s most noteworthy accomplishments in 2019 was saving the life of a 63-year-old heart attack victim using CPR and an automated defibrillator. The department’s submission for Felty’s award noted that he directed the lifesaving measures.
Felty also guided Basic Life Support actions and an EpiPen injection for a 4-year-old having distress due to an allergy, according to the submission.
In addition, Felty fostered a strong, interactive relationship with six Japanese fire departments, solidifying the department’s partnerships by coordinating 20 realistic joint training and fire prevention activities.
As for Mori, Felty said he is a superior performer and hard worker.
“Mori is a phenomenal firefighter and has outstanding dedication to the mission, and then he brings knowledge and enthusiasm to the job,” Felty said. “It helps because he’s also one of the more senior firefighters who helps train our new hires.”
Mori said he was born in Osaka, but grew up in the Kanagawa area, and wanted to become a firefighter because he loves to help people in need. He became a firefighter in 2007 and has always worked for USAG Japan at Camp Zama.
“I like the service to the community, which means medical service, firefighting and animal rescue,” Mori said. “Also, I’ve been a CPR instructor for over 10 years. I love to share and give the [information] to the rookies and our coworkers to make us at the same level, [so we can provide the] same service to the community. That’s my goal.”
Like Felty, Mori is also responsible for saving lives.
Mori recognized the signs and symptoms of heat stroke in two children and provided immediate first aid, reducing the children’s convulsions and preventing the onset of shock, according to Mori’s nominating document.
Mori also quickly provided medical care for a victim of severe chest pain, stabilizing the patient, treating the patient’s shock and transporting the patient to a hospital, according to the document. The patient fully recovered.
In addition, Mori, who is a firetruck driver as well, optimally positioned fire apparatus at a rubbish fire, allowing firefighters to quickly subdue the fire and prevent it from spreading to an adjacent storage facility, according to the document.
Felty and Mori also collaborated with outside agencies for the Kanagawa Prefecture Joint Disaster Drill, one of the department’s instances of working with outside agencies to improve overall emergency response in Japan.
The department also teamed with the Tokyo Fire Department for Japan’s pre-Olympic disaster exercise.
Additionally, members of the department rescued a driver in an overturned car, providing quick action to stabilize, extricate and treat the driver.
Felty said it is the department’s 140 firefighters who make the department successful.
“They’re mission-focused and have a dedication to mission and willingness to work,” Felty said.
In related news, IMCOM-Pacific named the U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa fire department the best small department in the Pacific region, and IMCOM named it the best small department in IMCOM. The department will next compete at the Army-wide level.