JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Military Firefighter history has been made. For the first-time ever, an Airman has been selected as the Army Military Firefighter of the Year at the Department of the Army level competition.
JBLM Firefighter, Senior Airman Steven Soto recently won the Army-level Military Firefighter of the Year honors, and will now represent the Department of the Army and compete against the other Services for the Department of Defense Military Firefighter of the Year honors later this year.
Senior Airman Soto represented JBLM at the Department of the Army level awards program after being named the 2012 Military Firefighter of the Year for the Army’s Installation Management Command.
IMCOM has four regions which encompass the U.S., Europe and Korea. The JBLM award submission for Soto first competed against candidates from other fire stations within the Central Region — an area of responsibility that covers the majority of Army installations across the U.S.
In years past an Airman wouldn’t be seen competing with Soldiers at the Army level. But joint base realignment, which has placed Soldiers and Airmen together in the same fire stations, has changed the game.
This year, award guidance for the program’s individual categories states that “military firefighters at joint base assignments where their service is not the lead component shall compete in the lead component award process.” At JBLM, military firefighters compete in the Army award process.
Judges based their decisions on awards packets submitted by the nominees’ supervisors that highlight accomplishments, job performance, tactical competency, leadership ability, initiative and resourcefulness. Soto’s award submission details how he led fellow firefighters into a home quickly and without hesitation to extinguish a kitchen fire.
Soto, 25, joined the Air Force in 2010 and was assigned to JBLM in February 2011.