The first winner of an award recognizing the accomplishments of Alaska fire chiefs serves close to home.
Kenai Fire Chief Jeff Tucker received the 2017 Warren B. Cummings Chief Officer of the Year Award at the 2018 Alaska Fire Chiefs Association Leadership Summit held in Juneau last week. The award recognizes fire chiefs who follow in the footsteps of Cummings, a 43-year fire service veteran from the Fairbanks Fire Department who recently died of cancer, according to information provided by the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association.
During his tenure as fire chief, Cummings helped obtain federal and state grants that funded millions of dollars in capital improvement projects and served in lead roles in the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association, the Western Fire Chiefs Association and the Alaska Fire Standards Council.
Tucker got to know Cummings well during his time with the fire service.
“The loss to Alaska fire service was pretty tremendous,” Tucker said. “To be able to get the award the first time this award is given out — in his name, his honor — was pretty special to me.”
Tucker, who has been with the Kenai department for four years, began his Alaska career in 2002 at the North Pole Fire Station and worked at Soldotna’s Central Emergency Services before taking over at Kenai. He has taken on leadership roles in several firefighter associations, including serving as the vice president of the Western Fire Chiefs Association and two terms as president of the Alaska Fire Chiefs Association.
“My goal has always been to make sure that the fire service in Alaska succeeds,” Tucker said.
In choosing the award winner, the selection committee looked at candidates’ dedication to making operational improvements, including acquiring the latest technology and developing programs to improve safety. The committee also looked at the leadership roles candidates took on in the community, statewide and nationally, and their dedication to mentoring.
Fairbanks Fire Chief Jim Styers, who was part of the selection committee for the award, said Tucker was chosen not just for his leadership, but for his support for colleagues. He said he reaches out to Tucker when he needs help or guidance on an issue, such as navigating new technology.
“He’s very personable and always willing to help out,” Styers said. “He’s one of the guys you rely on.”