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Photo courtesy of Kristie Gustafson-Snyder
Fire Explorer of the Year EmaLee Gustafson stands with the Fire Explorer Adviser and Fire Capt. Jamie Williams.

Fire Department issues annual awards


BARSTOW • The Barstow Fire Department issued annual awards for Employee, Firefighter, Fire Explorer and Community Emergency Response Team Volunteer of the Year.

High school student EmaLee Gustafson received Fire Explorer of the Year during a ceremony on Jan. 5.

“She really just stood out. She’s been very dedicated, made all of the community events and she’s made plenty of stride in personal goals,” Jamie Williams, fire captain and adviser of the Fire Explorers, said.

Gustafson is one of three girls out of 15 participants in the Fire Explorers Program and was the first in the program to test and qualify to do ride-alongs.

“They live the life of a firefighter, they train like us. We train them in the early levels of fire and we teach them about teamwork and making a difference in the community,” Williams said.

Gustafson, whose goal is to become a firefighter, said she was honored to receive the award.

“I wasn’t actually expecting it. My captain said I earned it and I was very proud to hear that from her,” she said.

The Fire Explorer program is open to young adults ages 14 to 20 who are interested in learning about a career in fire service. The other awards went to Carlos Topete for Firefighter of the Year, Heather Adams for Employee of the Year, and Roy Thomas for CERT Volunteer of the Year.

Fire Chief Richard said his office chose Topete, who is the district’s fitness coordinator, for Firefighter of the Year.

“We have a big emphasis over physical fitness for the department and he’s a great role model and mentor to the guys as far as health and wellness goes,” Ross said.

Adams, who is an administrative assistant, was chosen as Employee of the Year because she was instrumental in adapting to the new processes and changes as the fire district became a part of the city and got a new fire chief, Ross said.

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