Clayton Fire Company honored for commitment to cleanliness

The Clayton Fire Company received the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Award on Wednesday. From left, Gov. John Carney, Clayton Fire Chief Alex Carrow, Clayton Fire Company President Kevin L. Wilson, Executive Director at Congressional Fire Service Institute Bill Webb, Past Director of Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association Steve Austin and Executive Director of National Fallen Fighters Foundation Chief Ronald Jon Siarnicki. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

CLAYTON – Boosted by a clear commitment to member health, the Clayton Fire Company No. 1 had plenty of material to submit when applying for national recognition.

Thus, the company bested around 80 other companies to earn the 2020 Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Leadership Award. The official presentation came during a relatively small ceremony at the company late Wednesday morning, but was no less significant.

With an investment in equipment designed to mitigate the risk of cancer due to repeated exposures to carcinogens and the byproducts of combustion, CFC has increased the health and safety of members in what’s already a hazardous volunteer service, visiting officials said.

“This is a prime example of a volunteer fire company doing whatever they can to improve the survivability of their membership,” said Jon Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Association, an award co-sponsor along with the Congressional Fire Services Institute.

“Clayton took the steps with the equipment and processes to help reduce occupational cancer risks, which have really become more and more relevant as an issue for the fire service.”

During the ceremony, CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb pointed to CFC’s purchase of two sets of hoods for members and a station washer and dryer for gear, along with installation of a shower in 2014 to allow for cleaning before leaving the station following a call.

Executing an overall stringent sanitization process throughout the station and on gear and equipment has been a constant for years as well, according to CFC officials.

Also, the CFSI noted that CFC is collaborating with Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus to create a cancer education and screening program for its members.

The Clayton Fire Company officers stand as they are recognized during the presentation of the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Award at the Clayton Fire Station on Wednesday.

“Delaware is known as the First State, and the Delaware volunteer fire service is known throughout the national fire service for its leadership, often establishing new initiatives and being the first to address challenges confronting our nation’s volunteer fire service,” said Mr. Webb in prepared remarks.

“The Clayton Volunteer Fire Company exemplifies this type of leadership through its commitment to firefighter cancer prevention and awareness.”

Clayton officials pointed to the execution of a stringent sanitization process of gear and equipment is a constant as well. CFC President Kevin Wilson and Fire Chief Alex Carrow saluted members for their buy-in to the cleanliness-always culture.

While the award is typically presented at the National Fire and Emergency Services Dinner in Washington before 2,000 fire and emergency services officials across country, COVID-19 restrictions brought the ceremony to Clayton Wednesday.

“The importance of this is being recognized for something we would do anyway,” Mr. Wilson said. “We’re not looking for a pat on the back but having somebody say ‘Hey, good job’ validates what we’re doing.”

During just over five minutes of remarks saluting CFC’s commitment to community and honor for protecting itself, Gov. John Carney said “When you think about what firefighters do it’s incredibly selfless that they’re always thinking about responding and running into fires as everybody else is running out and too often they don’t think about their own health and safety.”

The award was named after former Maryland Sen. Sarbanes, who served as a co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus for 12 years. He introduced legislation in 1992 that created the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

Clayton Fire Company President Kevin L. Wilson speaks after receiving the Senator Paul S. Sarbanes Fire Service Safety Award on Wednesday.

Other award winners this year were Prince George’s County, Md., Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, and Sioux Falls, S.D., Fire Rescue.