Spotlight on Safety: American Legion honors Police Officer and Firefighter of the Year

On Wednesday, March 9, the American Legion Post 147 celebrated the legion’s 97th birthday by honoring the firefighter, police officer and legionnaire of the year.

Clovis fireman Brian Cox was recognized as the firefighter of the year.

Cox was born and raised in Clovis and graduated from Clovis West High School in 1982. He earned his A.S. degree in Fire Science from Fresno City College and was hired as a reserve firefighter for the City of Clovis, where he trained as a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) technician and maintained and assisted with all city owned SCBAs. He attended the fire academy in Madera in 1984 and was hired as a full-time firefighter with the City of Merced in 1987. In 1989, he was hired as a full-time firefighter for the City of Clovis. In 2000, he was promoted to fire engineer and received a firefighter of the year award.

As part of his job with the City of Clovis, he assists with public education in fire safety at the local elementary schools and he also maintains and tests all SCBAs. Since 2003, Cox has served as a city board member on the nationally recognized National Fire Protection Agency SCBA Committee. He assisted in the formation of the SCBA consortium, which involves local fire departments from Kern County to Modesto. He also made the largest purchase of SCBA’s in U.S. history, saving the city of Clovis over $1 million. He also facilitated the first purchase and use of composite oxygen cylinders in the U.S. and facilitated the first purchase and use of composite 45-minute SCBA cylinders.

Since 2010, Cox has served as a the present chair of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) committee responsible for SCBA communications and is responsible for changing the voice applification standard.

Cox has also been involved with numerous fundraising events with the Clovis Fire Department.

Cox said he was honored to receive the American Legion’s Firefighter of the Year and he made it a priority to be at the ceremony despite his long list of responsibilities and engagements.

“After I got called a few weeks ago about getting this, I got a call that night to guest speak in Dubai,” Cox said. “With that I was on a plane the following week and I said ‘I have to come back for this’ so I came back and was back for two days and then had to go to Dallas for an NFPA meeting and then I had to tell the chief, I have to change my flight because I have to make it back for this. It is such a big honor.”

The Police Officer of the Year honored was Giuseppe Chiaramonte.

Officer Chiaramonte joined the Clovis Police Department on June 1, 2014. He was born and raised in Santa Cruz where he attended and graduated from SoCal High School. He enrolled at Fresno State, where he played for the Fresno State Bulldogs baseball team in the Western Athletic Conference. He left Fresno State early when he was drafted as a professional baseball catcher. Officer Chiaramonte was drafted in the fifth round of the 1997 major league baseball draft and was a professional baseball player with the Giants from 1999 to 2002. He also participated in the 1999 all stars and retired at the age of 16. Giuseppe was also a small business owner from 2003 to 2008.

Chiaramonte attended the Santa Clara County Justice Training Center where he earned a leadership award. He served as a Santa Cruz sheriff’s deputy from January 2008 to 2014. He commuted for two years to Clovis from Santa Cruz and had the unique opportunity to listen, ask questions and watch Clovis Police Officers at work within the community during that period. He learned that Clovis community members and those in the surrounding areas held Clovis PD in the highest regard and he wanted to be part of the culture the Clovis Police Department was cultivating.

“He knows everyone in his beat by name,” Anthony Guerrero, who presented Chiaramonte said. “He is extremely efficient and proactive with most arrests, he reports most calls on shift and he always has a positive attitude and treats those he contacts with respect. He is a great example of what Clovis PD is: he never slows down or stops.”

Chiaramonte said he was honored to be recognized by the American Legion.

“For me there is a humbling affect to this because I just turned 40 years old and this is my third profession and I have the unique opportunity in front of you, the American Legion, and I have this past connection with you that maybe you’re not aware of,” Chiaramonte said. “I got to play baseball and I got to a level where it was an opportunity to experience something unique. With the American Legion, I got to play American Legion baseball for a while and you were always a part of my life in some way, shape or form. You do have an impact on the youth like you did on me and I want to say thank you for that humbly. This award means a lot to me. It means a lot of be a part of your organization and to represent Clovis PD.”

The legionnaire of the year, Jim Pacini, was also honored at the ceremony.