Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: June 4, 2021
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Alenaa Yarmosky, | Virginia Department of Fire Programs: Vanessa Copeland,

Governor Northam Recognizes Recipients of 2020 Governor’s Fire Service Awards

RICHMOND—Governor Ralph Northam today announced the recipients of the 2020 Governor’s Fire Service Awards, who were recognized at an awards ceremony held this afternoon.

Established in 2002, the Governor’s Fire Service Awards honor excellence in Virginia’s Fire Service and are facilitated by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, in partnership with the Virginia Fire Services Board.

“Each year, we are honored to recognize Virginia’s dedicated fire professionals who go beyond the call of duty to protect their fellow Virginians and communities in times of great danger,” said Governor Northam. “This year’s award recipients have displayed remarkable tenacity and valor while navigating unprecedented challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful to these brave men and women for their faithful service and sacrifice. ”

“We continue to be amazed by Virginia’s Fire Service and its desire to enhance the public safety profession with innovative solutions,” said Virginia Department of Fire Programs Acting Executive Director Garrett Dyer. “That innovative spark is the foundation of the Governor’s Fire Service Awards and we are honored to recognize impressive levels of excellence with these awards.”

“Through the hardships of this past year these men and women have continuously worked to help their communities,” said the Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian J. Moran. “We are proud to honor these recipients for their commitment to ensuring the safety and protection to those in our Commonwealth.”

Winners of the 2020 Governor’s Fire Service Awards


Keith Johnson, Loudoun County Fire and Rescue | John Butler, Fairfax County Fire Rescue Department
Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System and Fairfax County Fire Rescue Department, in conjunction with the Northern Virginia EMS Council, Inova Health System, Inova Trauma and Blood Donor Service, launched a novel prehospital blood program called the Field Available Component Transfusion Response (FACT R) program, which provides blood via 911 resources to entrapped trauma patients. FACT R is a groundbreaking program that offers lifesaving training and supplies to first responders, enabling a dramatic increase in the level of care they can provide in the field. The idea of this program came after answering a joint response requiring on the scene blood transfusion to be administered, which ultimately saved the lives of the trapped victims. This innovative program is the first of its kind with this level of capability nationwide.


Andrew Milliken, Stafford County Fire and Rescue Department
As chair of the Virginia Fire Services Board, Codes and Standards Sub-committee, Andrew Milliken has been a critical voice for the Virginia Fire Service on several Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) work groups and during public hearings and meetings held by DHCD during the 2018 State Fire Prevention Code Development Process. He works tirelessly to find compromise amid the concerns of the Fire Service community and takes the time to answer any questions raised by non-Fire Service participants. He was involved in reviewing and coordinating over 1,000 different amendment proposals to the Statewide Fire Prevention Code in 2020.


Virginia Beach Fire Department
The Virginia Beach Fire Department (VBFD) successfully conducted a live fire training scenario at two hotels at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront that met multiple important objectives. This involved 58 total live fire scenarios and enabled 145 fire crews and many chief officers to gain a better understanding of what is needed to fight fire and rescue victims in a high-rise fire. The VBFD Training Bureau worked collaboratively across private and public entities, such as the hotel owners, the City of Virginia Beach, and the Virginia Beach Department of EMS to ensure compliance with the National Fire Protection Association, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and city, state, and federal standards and codes.


City of Staunton Fire and Rescue
On the evening of Saturday, August 8, 2020, the City of Staunton Fire and Rescue embarked on an unprecedented night of responses that required the City’s fire services to perform heroic swift water rescues and fire suppression simultaneously when a series of intense, quick moving isolated rain storms passed through the City of Staunton. These storms resulted in a historic flooding event and by August 9, 2020, Staunton Fire and Rescue had responded to more than 89 emergency incidents that included 21 water rescue calls, rescuing victims from stranded vehicles, and battling a large structure fire that broke out in the downtown area.


Robinson’s Towing and Recovery
Robinson’s Towing and Recovery has been an essential part of the Heavy Vehicle Training program at the Virginia Public Safety Training Center for the past five years during the Department of Fire Programs “Rescue Week.” Owner Rusty Robinson has not only supported the training with equipment and props, he has also provided personnel to cross train the Robinson’s team members with Fire and Rescue personnel from across the Commonwealth.


Christopher Puzzanghero, Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department
Christopher Puzzanghero’s connection to the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department dates back to his years as an explorer and volunteer in high school. Now with more than a decade under his belt in the fire service, Puzzanghero actively seeks out training locally and nationally, using his own time and money to perfect his craft. In addition, he is always eager to share his knowledge and experience with his crew, battalion, department, and the rest of the fire service. As an adjunct instructor for Recruit and Field training in Fairfax County, the Department of Fire Programs, and a private fire services training company, he strives to go above and beyond from the newest recruit to the most tenured firefighter to provide the best service possible. He has shown on many occasions to make tactful decisions under pressure and his department is better and safer for his dedication. His valiant response efforts were on display June 7, 2017 when he took quick action to save a fellow firefighter who had fallen into an interior basement on a structure fire.


Edmund Elliott, City of Chesapeake Fire Department
Fire Chief Elliott has been faithfully serving the citizens of Chesapeake for over 47 years and as Fire Chief for the last 11 years. Entering into the department in 1974, Chief Elliott has dedicated his life to serving his community and fire department. He has risen through the ranks and currently serves in many different roles in his locality, developing relationships to foster success. In addition, Chief Elliott has taken steps to revolutionize the culture of his department through his Vitals Handbook, which focuses on living their mission, viewing each other as a family and not co-workers, treating each other with respect, being honest in all interactions, being good stewards of the community, celebrating achievements, and supporting each other in times of crisis. This program has been so successful that he has been asked to share throughout his city government.


Doug Monaco, Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company
Chief Doug Monaco has dedicated the past 48 years of his life to Virginia volunteer and professional fire and rescue services. This includes service both in volunteer companies and a 32-year career as a paid member of the Prince William County Fire and Rescue system where he retired at the rank of Captain. In 2010, Chief Monaco saw the need and founded the Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company Large Animal Rescue Team which has been extremely successful and responds around the state. Although Little Fork Volunteer Fire and Rescue Company may be small, Chief Monaco has created an environment for his volunteer company to thrive with in astounding 88 current members and a 100 percent response rate for the last nine years. During his tenure as chief he has fostered a culture that encourages engagement and training for his members.

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