FireRescue Magazine Announces Company Officer of the Year Award Winner

San Diego, March 3, 2014 FireRescue Magazine, a PennWell Public Safety publication, announces that Lieutenant Edward Vargas of the Vischer Ferry (N.Y.) Volunteer Fire Company is the recipient of the 2014 FireRescue Magazine Company Officer of the Year Award, sponsored by American Military University. The award will be presented on Friday, April 11, 2014 at the Fire Department Instructor’s Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis.

Lt. Vargas is recognized for his passion for mentoring firefighters, a fierce commitment to training, and his dedication to building a safety culture within the department. His effective approach to training and developing firefighters was evident in his nomination, written by Vischer Ferry Lt. Elizabeth Grebe: “Ed is deeply passionate about the fire service [and he works] to instill this passion in his personnel, creating a sense of value in even the most tedious, routine tasks. He works with newer and senior line officers to [help them] be the best leaders possible. He allows members to come up with their own solutions as if they were in command, and then reviews the positive and negative aspects of their proposed solutions, allowing them to grow as leaders. He is careful to publicly acknowledge the accomplishments of all members, citing trainings they have completed, or their strengths in work on calls or in trainings. When a member has fallen short in some way, Ed coaches them privately and informally in a constructive manner. The attendance of our younger/newer members is up since Ed joined.”

FireRescue magazine Editor-in-Chief Tim Sendelbach is proud to recognize Lt. Vargas as this year’s recipient for his exemplary instructional ability and dedication to the fire service. “Lt. Vargas consciously employs different methods of instruction, seeking to find the method that is most effective for the member and for the information being taught,” he said. “He has introduced firefighter close call reports, near-miss reports and NIOSH line-of-duty death reports, as well as applicable NFPA standards and other regulations, into the department’s training. These efforts have resulted in more engaged members and a safer department overall.”

As Company Officer of the Year, Lt. Vargas receives a $1,000 cash award plus airfare, accommodations, and registration to FDIC 2014, April 7–12 in Indianapolis. The award is sponsored by American Military University—Serve, Learn, Lead. To support his professional development, the Center for Public Safety Excellence has offered Vargas a scholarship that covers the cost of its Fire Officer credentialing and designation program. Additionally, Liberty Art Works will donate an award that signifies the unique position of the company officer in the fire service.

Lt. Vargas started his volunteer fire service career at the age of 18, in La Porte, Texas. His district chief at the time, Mike Knott, provided inspiration that has driven Vargas throughout his career. “He showed me that people come first. You can have the nicest equipment and apparatus, but if you don’t have good people to fill the drivers’ seats, you’ll never be successful. He really inspired me to want to develop myself in the fire service as someone who inspired people.” Vargas moved to New York in 2000 and served in two volunteer fire departments before joining Vischer Ferry in 2011. He was promoted to lieutenant in 2013.

Created in 2004, the Company Officer of the Year Award is open to active lieutenants, captains, first-line supervisors, and company officers in both career and volunteer agencies. Winners are selected based on the following criteria: leadership, training, incident command effectiveness, commitment to safety, interpersonal communication, and community involvement.

FireRescue Magazine would like to commend all of the nominees for the 2014 award for their innovative ideas, practices, and leadership that will benefit the fire service today and in the future.

For more information about the award, please contact FireRescue Magazine at

PennWell Public Safety, a PennWell business located in La Jolla, Calif., produces public safety products and services including JEMS (Journal of Emergency Medical Services), FireRescue Magazine, Law Officer, EMS Today Conference and Exposition,,, and other products.

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