PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
Capt. Greg Bueghly. Photo by Rebecca Murphy

CAPT. GREG BUEGHLY of Georgetown Fire was named the 10th annual California State Fire Training Officer of the Year in the Firehouse World convention in February. Democrat photo by Rebecca Murphy

News

Fire captain awarded prestigious honor

By From page A5 | May 18, 2012

SUBHEAD: Placerville resident named Training Officer of the Year

Captain Greg Bueghly of Georgetown Fire was named the 10th annual California State Fire Training Officer of the Year this past February in San Diego at the Firehouse World convention.

“It was a total surprise to me,” said Capt. Bueghly, who was born in Redding and is now a resident of Placerville. “Assistant Fire Chief (retired) Mike Currie spearheaded four letters along with his, and I was totally honored by what my peers and superiors said about me.

“L.A. and Orange County — those are the people that get these awards, not a little station in Georgetown, Calif. It’s a huge honor statewide.”

Always modest in his accomplishments, Bueghly told those that nominated him he had already won by being nominated. “We don’t work for awards,” said the former owner of the original Home Brew Outlet.

The award was presented to Bueghly in front of more than 3,000 of his colleagues, and Bueghly said he was honored to meet one of his icons, Chief Alan V. Brunacini, a retired Phoenix fire chief who is known nationwide and teaches leadership abilities and customer service. The criteria for Bueghly’s selection was based on a firefighter’s effectiveness as an instructor, service to their department, and leadership skills, all for which he was exalted.

“No question about it, he is our nomination for this award,” wrote Mike Currie in Bueghly’s nomination letter.

Capt. Bueghly is a paramedic and a training officer for Georgetown Fire, but he began his career as a volunteer with Garden Valley Fire in the late 1990s. He joined the fire department following an accident that happened in front of his home, then in Garden Valley, on which he assisted, and worked at Garden Valley Fire until approximately 2000.

“I was the first paramedic Garden Valley had,” said Bueghly, who set up the advanced life support system at Station 51.

When Senate Bill 1207 became law in 2001 outlining the provision for training of all volunteer firefighters as well as department staff, Bueghly was promoted to training officer. And because the bill became law that January, a tax assessment was made on the residents of Georgetown to provide payment for such a position.

“Over the years of service, Capt. Bueghly has planned and executed bi-monthly training sessions for the department firefighters,” wrote Currie. “He brought the level of training to higher standards with his dedication and technical expertise. He was solely responsible in designing and implementing the Divide Firefighter Academy, a four-month (180-plus hours) program for volunteer firefighter recruits.”

The program is all-encompassing with first responder training, all aspects of structural firefighting including ladders, hose evolutions, all fire ground tools and equipment with live fire evolutions and wildland fire training. With the help of community organizations such as the Needle Nellies and Divide Health Care Auxiliary, and annual fundraising events organized by the Georgetown Fire personnel (Halloween Ball, St. Patrick’s Dinner, and Christmas raffle, etc.), money has been raised throughout the years to build a state-of-the-art fire training facility near Buckeye Station on Wentworth Springs Road.

The motivator

I was the motivator, so to speak,” said Capt. Bueghly. “Whenever I asked what my budget was, they told me zero. We did a lot of ‘block’ parties. Without the volunteers and other staff it wouldn’t have been done.” For Bueghly’s part, he said he wrote articles that kept the staff and volunteers informed and entertained on the progress of the facility. But others said he was more than the motivator behind getting the job done.

“Because there is no money, Greg finds himself building props to carry out his mission,” wrote Shari Homstrom, then-administrative assistant to Georgetown Fire, in her letter of recommendation for Bueghly’s honor.

The department only contracted out two cement floors and stairs that lead to a third story of the “live” fire burn facility. Everything else was through time donated by local volunteer firefighters, staff and contractors or other technical experts.

“We have so many volunteers with special skills,” said Bueghly.

For one excursion in getting information on props for the training facility, former Fire Chief Rick Todd flew Bueghly and others to the Lucas Ranch where they learned how to build propane props, something of which there are many in such movies as “Star Wars.”

“As a volunteer fire department, we are the only department in El Dorado County that has a facility of this magnitude,” said Currie. “Greg spent many hours undertaking the design and construction of the props for this facility.”

The leader

Being the only one of its kind in the county, the training facility is used by other county fire agencies, law enforcement and U.S. Forest Service personnel under the direction of Capt. Bueghly. Additionally, Bueghly has led coordinated, countywide emergency drills, which have involved Cal Fire, the Forest Service, law enforcement, community member-driven organizations such as CERT and FAST, and the media, and have included realistic props and victims.

More than 100 trained and certified volunteer firefighters have gone through the fire academy, the setting up of which was one of Bueghly’s first tasks after being promoted to fire training officer. He also has been responsible for the training and recertification of regular personnel with the Georgetown Fire District.

In addition, Capt. Bueghly took on an apprenticeship program last year in which he mentors seven apprentices with little or no firefighting experience. They respond on calls with Bueghly and are tutored in the requirements for certification and signed off as Firefighter I.

To sum up the reason Capt. Bueghly was nominated and received the 2011 California Fire Training Officer of the Year award, perhaps Currie said it best in his nomination letter.

“As a fire captain, Greg Bueghly is an excellent leader both on and off the scene,” he said. “He has proven himself on a variety of critical scenes, both fire and medical. He is a highly respected officer not only for the Georgetown Fire Department, but throughout the county. Both paid personnel and volunteers look up to him.”

Next year, Bueghly said he will teach a class in leadership versus management at the 11th annual Firehouse World convention as part of the award.

Rebecca Murphy

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