Firefighters in Gulfport honored as the best in the Air National Guard

Firefighters in Gulfport honored as the best in the Air National Guard

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Firefighters at the Combat Readiness Training Center in Gulfport have a lot to brag about these days.

Their fire department has been named the best in the Air National Guard, beating out 60 other departments across the country.

The firefighters said they're excited their hard work is being recognized. They said the fire department of the year award is even sweeter because 2014 Civilian Firefighter of the Year also works right here at this base.

Firefighters at the Combat Readiness Training Center respond to calls on base, at the Gulfport-Biloxi International airport and in the community, which means they have to train for everything from plane crashes to train derailments to car crashes. Their chief said he's never worked with a more dedicated group.

"When it comes to obtaining certifications and maintaining their licenses there are times when the government doesn't have the money readily available," said Chief Gregory Marks. "These are the kinds of guys that go and pay for it themselves."

Officials said they owe being named the 2014 Air Guard Fire Department of the year to great partnerships with other area fire departments.

Assistant Chief Russell Shoultz said, "We provide responses for one another. When we have a response here on the base or at the airport which we provide fire protection for, it cannot be possible without our partners in the community and vice versa we respond in the community as well."

Civilian firefighter of the year Heath Sidaway is very humble about his award. He believes any of his fellow firefighters could have easily won because they know the value of teamwork.

"It's definitely the utmost importance to have that trust in somebody that is with you standing with you," said Heath Sidaway. "You've got to believe that the person next to you is capable of doing what you're capable of doing and visa versa." 

All of the firefighters in the department are civilians. They will now move on to compete against the top fire departments in the other branches of the Department of Defense.

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