Annual Event Honors Local Heroes
Every year the Newport Beach Fire Department is recognized at a special dinner hosted by the Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce’s Commodores Club, where a ceremony is held honoring the Firefighter of the Year, Lifeguard of the Year and Seasonal Lifeguard of the Year. This year’s 18th annual dinner will be held Thursday, September 17, at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel & Spa in its Rose Garden.
Newport Beach Fire Chief Scott Poster describes the evening.
“That night is the opportunity for the Fire Department to recognize outstanding individuals selected by their peers,” he says. “It’s quite an honor to be singled out by the people you work with.”
Poster says there are 150 full-time fire department employees, with 200 seasonal lifeguards. The lifeguards are in Marine Operations, which is headed by Assistant Chief Rob Williams, now in his fourth year. Williams is a former recipient of Lifeguard of the Year.
Williams tells us the 200 seasonal lifeguards complement the 15 full-time lifeguards in Marine Operations.
“On any given day, we have 75 lifeguards (seasonal and full-time) working the beaches and another 55 lifeguards in our Junior Lifeguard Program, who act as instructors to the 1,320 participants in the actual junior lifeguard program,” he says. “The program, which ran from June 22 to August 7, teaches youth, ages 9-16, to be safe at the beach and in the ocean.”
The responsibilities of the Newport Beach Fire Department are four-fold: Fire Operations, Emergency Medical Services, Life Safety Services, and Marine Operations. When you look at the number of responses, marine operations is very active.
“Ten million people come to our beaches each year,” Poster says, and Williams adds, “There are seven miles of ocean-facing beaches and 34 miles of bayfront beaches for which we are responsible.”
And, these gentlemen have one concern.
“Public safety is first and foremost,” Williams says. “We try and provide positive interactions and reasons for everyone to stay and return.”
When you consider that 85 percent of the interactions are medically-related across the board, that’s a tall order. We are talking fires, auto accidents, emergency medical services, life safety situations, plus preparing the community for any natural and man-made disasters.
“One of the things people need to recognize is that our firefighters and lifeguards place themselves in harm’s way to save and assist total strangers,” says Poster. “They are ambassadors of the city, assisting any person they come in contact with, whether it’s an emergency or just a question. They have a standard of customer service and care that is unprecedented within a public service agency, and they always go a step above.”
Williams shares that the month of March 2015, was the busiest they’ve seen.
“We had 1 million visitors and 500 marine rescues,” he says.
One thing is sure, the Newport Beach Fire and Lifeguard Appreciation Dinner on September 17th will be a joyous occasion. Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce President Steve Rosansky puts it in perspective.
“These men and women protect our homes, businesses and loved ones, and they deserve to be recognized and honored for their sacrifices.”