Firefighter of the year makes job safer for firemen world-wide

Photo by Jeanine Fiser – American Legion Department of California Firefighter of the Year, Brian Cox, holding his award surrounded by family and girlfriend at American Legion state conference in Fresno on Friday, June 24.

By Jeanine Fiser, Reporter

Firefighters across the nation risk their lives every day battling everything from burning buildings to wildfires, but thanks to Clovis firefighter Brian Cox their jobs are getting a little safer.

Cox was recognized as Firefighter of the Year by California’s department of the American Legion at their 98th annual convention in Fresno on Friday for his contributions to Clovis and the firefighting industry.

“This award is so honoring just because I feel like the veterans of America are our true heroes,” Cox said. “It’s really a big honor for me and my family.”

While serving the past six years as chairman of communication for the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) committee, Cox helped design and implement equipment improvements across the country.

Cox said firefighters can now communicate wirelessly while wearing their SCBA via Bluetooth technology. Voice projection systems through breathing equipment have also been improved increasing their range from 5 feet to 20 feet.

“When you look at any firefighter in the nation and you know their wearing all the equipment that you helped get designed for their safety, especially when it comes to communications, that’s huge,” Cox said.

The American Legion recognized the firefighter of 27 years for his exceptional service to Clovis through his work on the NFPA and for his contributions to local fundraising events such as ‘Fill the Boot’ and the Champ Camp chili cook off that benefits burn-injured children.

Anthony Guerrero, chair of the law and order committee for California’s American Legion, works with a committee to oversee the selection of award recipients for law officers and firefighters in valor and community service. Guerrero said nominations come from 30 districts within the state organization.

“Our commission meets once a year for selecting the officer of the year and we get all these reports and we decide then who will get it,” Guerrero said. “Sometimes it can get really tough choosing a winner.”

The American Legion award is not the only honor to Cox’s credit. Cox said he was awarded the City of Clovis’ firefighter of the year award not once, but twice, and he was recently inducted into the Clovis Hall of Fame.

Cox is more than a local celebrity, though. His work improving SCBA is beginning to have a global impact.

“I’ve spoken in Germany and Dubai, in Dubai the prince was there and so was the Prince of Abu Dhabi,” Cox said. “Everyone in the department has a nickname, they’ve started calling me ‘Fletch’ because I travel so much. When I open up my wallet all these business cards fold out like Chevy Chase in that movie.”

Deputy Fire Chief John Binaski attended the convention in support of Cox. He said Cox is a great source of pride for the department and Clovis.

“He really goes above and beyond his call of duty,” Binaski said.

Being part of a larger contribution seems natural to Cox, who was inspired to firefighting by a desire to serve.

“My whole family is in public safety, so I grew up in it,” Cox said. “There’s no bigger honor than serving your community.”