Seal of the Governor
For Immediate Release: February 21, 2024
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Christian Martinez, |Virginia Department of Fire Programs Contact: Will Merritt Email:

Governor Youngkin Recognizes Recipients of 2023 Governor’s Fire Service Awards

RICHMOND, VA – Governor Glenn Youngkin today announced the recipients of the 2023 Governor’s Fire Service Awards as part of the annual Virginia Fire Chiefs Association Expo and Symposium in Virginia Beach.  

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 collaboration with the Virginia Fire Services Board. 

“We join together in celebration and gratitude for the incredible contributions made by these first responders and support staff. In the midst of recent tragedy, we are grateful for these fearless heroes who run towards danger to protect and serve their fellow Virginians every day, said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “In collaboration with Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Terry Cole, we thank these personnel for their dedication and commitment to protecting our Commonwealth.”

“It is vital that we acknowledge and appreciate these dedicated individuals who have a deep commitment to serving others,” said Virginia Department of Fire Programs Executive Director Brad Creasy. “These remarkable men and women routinely exhibit acts of bravery, often putting their own lives on the line to save others. I am proud to recognize these courageous first responders.”  

2023 Governor’s Fire Service Awards Recipients 


Melvin Carter, City of Richmond Fire and Emergency Services 

Melvin Carter became the 21st Chief of Fire and Emergency Services for the City of Richmond in 2017. He began his career as a volunteer firefighter for Henrico County Division of Fire in 1983. Chief Carter has overseen the hiring of an additional 72 personnel secured through a federal grant, the purchase and updating of equipment, and replacement of aging fire stations throughout the city. His community approach to fire protection has led to a significant decrease in fire deaths within the city. Chief Carter has also fostered a collaborative and innovative work environment by creating new job opportunities such as the Driver Pump Operator program.  

Monty Coleman, Forest Volunteer Fire Department 

Monty Coleman has been a member of the Forest Volunteer Fire Department for 35 years. The community is changing from a farming community to an urban area with accompanying challenges for the all-volunteer department. Under Chief Coleman’s leadership, the department recognized the need to make changes to better protect their response area. Programs were needed to prepare responders to perform victim searches, complete vent-enter-search operations, forcible entry, power tool operations, and ventilation techniques. Chief Coleman attended numerous classes to share information and implemented several changes to position the department to adapt to the changing landscape.  


Henry Spencer, Arlington County Fire Department 

Henry Spencer has shown compassion in mentorship, strength being a firefighter, and passion for the community. He is actively involved in the department and spends much of his free time giving back to the community. In 2023, he was a co-chair for the department’s mentorship program and an orchestrator for the leadership development program. He also completed Instructor II and Firefighter I/II train-the-trainer and was an instructor at the training academy, developing the future of the department and implanting the skills and traits that will help them throughout their career. Outside of work, Henry participated in the World’s Strongest Firefighter, a competition of vigorous strength skills with firefighters around the world. In the community, Henry regularly teaches the department’s hands-only CPR program called Hands2Hearts and volunteers at a local food bank. 


Micah Kiger, Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue 

In 2017, an incendiary fire occurred in Loudoun County where gasoline was used to burn the exterior of a structure. Investigative leads were exhausted by members of the Loudoun County Fire Marshal’s Office under the direction of Deputy Chief Micah Kiger. A piece of evidence was discarded by the perpetrator on a nearby walking trail. Due to a thorough canvass of surrounding areas, a well-documented scene, and proper evidence collection techniques, a DNA profile was retrieved from a glove. At the time of the crime, no matching DNA profile was in the national database. In September 2022, the Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Fire Marshal’s Office was notified of a possible DNA match to an adult male arrested for arson in Norfolk. Through strong investigative work, the case was presented to a grand jury where an indictment for felony arson was issued. 


City of Lynchburg Fire Department 

Lynchburg Fire Department’s “Walk-About Wednesday” is a Community Risk Reduction (CRR) initiative collaboratively created by the CRR team in the Lynchburg Fire Marshal’s Office and the University of Lynchburg Bonner Program aimed at enhancing community safety and well-being. Key features of the program include going door-to-door with CRR and fire department staff in targeted neighborhoods to provide emergency preparedness information along with installing smoke alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and changing alarm batteries. It should be noted that there was no fiscal impact to the citizens as all materials used were supplied by local business partners. In addition, the program organically created opportunities for stakeholder support as the program grew in popularity. This initiative is a forward-thinking, proactive approach to a traditional challenge. It combines community engagement, data-driven risk assessment, and education to create a safer and more resilient community. 


Adam Still, Winchester Fire and Rescue 

Over the past five years, Winchester Fire and Rescue has seen a decrease in experienced hires, leading to the hiring of personnel with no previous experience and facilitating an in-house recruit class for all certifications. Adam Still is now responsible for facilitating a recruit class, overseeing the incumbent training, and managing the transition of recruits to field operations for release through the field training program. He manages all these tasks daily by himself. Adam is heavily involved with development of the active assailant program, mass casualty incident training, and first aid/CPR courses for all city employees and some private businesses. Over the past year, Adam has continued to develop as a fire instructor by completing Instructor I and vehicle operator courses. He is actively involved with the high school Firefighter I program. When he is not in the classroom teaching, he is behind the scenes supporting the lead instructor with the program due to his expertise with fire training. He is a selfless individual that can manage the completion of mounting tasks, keep the training division moving forward, and find time to facilitate classes. 

Mike Musser, Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department 

For many years, Mike Musser’s name has been synonymous with training and mentoring many of the firefighters in southwest Virginia. Mike retired several years ago from the Virginia State Police, but his emergency services career did not end there. He has remained active in the fire service, not only as a volunteer member answering emergency calls, but also as a fire service instructor. He has instructed much of the leadership staff in southwest Virginia in various fire service courses and mentored many others along the way. He is a professional volunteer and applies what he teaches on the fire ground. He brings his experience into the classroom and gives realistic examples to match the course materials. In a recent example of Mike’s dedication to training, he is assisting the Department of Fire Programs on a pilot project for aerial training that would allow more volunteer departments to obtain aerial training.  


Metro Richmond Flying Squad 

The Metro Richmond Flying Squad is an all-volunteer organization specializing in delivering National Fire Protection Association 1584-compliant rehabilitation services for firefighters in the Richmond area. This dedicated team of volunteers has consistently demonstrated exceptional commitment and expertise in supporting the health and well-being of the firefighting community. Established as an all-volunteer entity, the Metro Richmond Flying Squad has become an indispensable resource by providing rehabilitation services tailored to the unique needs of firefighters. Their commitment to adhering to nationally recognized standards underscores their vital contribution to the emergency services landscape.  


Joe Pack, Atlantic Emergency Solutions 

Joe Pack is the CEO of Atlantic Emergency Solutions, a dealer of emergency equipment. Atlantic Emergency Solutions has been a significant supporter of many state associations and fire departments in Virginia through their active participation at annual conferences and events. The company also financially supports the Virginia Fire Officer Academy and the Virginia Chief Officer Academy. These two educational programs have been delivered to more than 1800 fire and EMS providers across the commonwealth.  


Engine Company 17, Virginia Beach Fire Department 

In the early morning of July 5, 2023, Retired Virginia Beach Fire Department Captain Rob Valentine identified a nearby home was on fire. As he ran to assist, one of his neighbors stated that there were two people on the back side on the balcony. Captain Valentine quickly moved to the rear of the house where he found two adults on a third story balcony. Virginia Beach Fire Department Engine 17 arrived on scene and were notified of the immediate need for a rescue operation. Firefighters simultaneously deployed a hose line to protect the trapped residents while raising a 28-foot extension ladder to reach them. As firefighters reached the third story, they quickly assisted one of the occupants onto the ladder and began descending. The smoke from the fire ignited around the building and on the balcony. The second occupant had no choice but to climb over the railing to escape the heat. Firefighters positioned themselves to help break the fall from the burning balcony. The victims were transferred to EMS care with minor injuries. Retired Captain Valentine remained on scene and assisted with hose movement and logistics throughout the incident. Without the quick and calm actions of all parties involved, the outcome of this incident may have been vastly different. 

Blairs Fire and Rescue 

In November 2023, Blairs Volunteer Fire and Rescue, along with mutual aid agencies from both Pittsylvania County and the City of Danville, responded to a structure fire at an apartment complex. The first arriving member reported the front of the occupied apartment building to be heavily involved in fire and several reports of people trapped. With this information, along with as many as nine simultaneous emergency calls from subjects reporting themselves trapped by the fire, dispatchers initiated an all-county alert, dispatching all 21 fire departments in Pittsylvania County and mutual aid from Danville to the incident. Several of the trapped occupants began to jump from their windows before fire apparatus arrived due to deteriorating conditions. Immediately after the arrival of apparatus from Blairs Fire and Rescue, ground ladders were placed on the structure, and the last five people were rescued from the building. Within ten minutes of the last victim being rescued by fire department members, the building experienced a catastrophic collapse. Without the actions of the dispatchers, the firefighters from Blairs Fire and Rescue, assistance from various members of law enforcement, and coordination of treatment and transport of the victims, this incident would have had a much different outcome. Despite the challenges of low staffing, an inadequate water supply, and a fully occupied dwelling that was heavily involved in fire, this incident concluded with no serious injuries or fatalities. 

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