DEAN TOPE is certainly one of the longest-term users of the Hawk Tool on the Nevada (IA) Community Fire Department (NCFD), where it was developed. Dean has been a volunteer with the department for over twenty years, including service, until recently, as the Assistant Chief responsible for EMS delivery.
He became a member of NCFD at a time when applicants frequently joined in clusters. These young, enthusiastic, firefighters tended to be exceptionally active in emergency responses and generally took all the training they could find. They advanced quickly. They regularly helped with preparations for local training. Dean set the pace for this pattern and was soon helping teach some of the field courses he had taken, and became one of the most active instructors in his Nevada department.
Dean was also one of the first members of the department to acquire and regularly carry his own personal fire tool, in his case one of the early Hawk tools like those carried on departmental apparatus (they were originally manufactured by Iowa American Fire Equipment, located in nearby Osceola, Iowa).
FIREGROUND SUPPORT OPERATIONS. Fireground Support Operations (FSO) is a regionally and nationally delivered course focused on “truck company operations for fire departments without a ladder truck.” Background on the course is summarized in the “LOVERS PLUS” blog on the Hook and Ladder University website: hookandladderuniversity.com. As some of the original instructors of that course, moved on to other ventures, members of the Nevada department gradually took over the majority its course deliveries. Dean quickly specialized in vertical ventilation and made significant refinements in that section of the course.
A significant objective of the course is to introduce students to new truckwork-related tools and equipment; it offers them the opportunity for hands-on experience working with virtually every hand tool and small power tool on the market. The last segment of the course is generally a real-time emergency scenario involving the entire class in simulated truck company assignments– the above photo of students laddering shows the roof operations segment of one of Dean’s roof ops classes.
PUBLIC FIRE EDUCATION. Much of Dean’s time as an Assistant Chief was spent directing the EMS arm of the department. Keeping departmental and individual EMS training, protocols, and other documents records up-to-date is a never-ending job. It requires a person with administrative skills, dedication, and responsibility– a chore that is seldom fully appreciated. Dean did a good job with EMS but his original, day-to-day passion has long been fire prevention and safety education. He has led his department’s school fire safety program, tirelessly, for over twenty years. In that regard, he continues a tradition of department excellence in public fire education established by Gerald Mills, Nevada’s first career fire chief. And, like Mills, Dean earned a Governor’s Award from Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack (left photo, below– later U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) for the consistent excellence of his programming.
DIVERSIFIED E.M.S. Recently Dean stepped out of the Assistant Chief role and transitioned into a new, more diversified involvement in EMS– employment in the field. He has become an unusually active EMS Instructor/Educator, joined a hospital-based ambulance service, is pursuing advanced professional EMS certification, and (in his “spare time”) works EMS with Mary Greeley Medical Center at Iowa State University sporting events.
“VACATIONING” IN THE BACK SEAT. While hospital-based EMS now takes a big bite out of Dean’s emergency service schedule, he still manages to squeeze in a little fun every once in a while– it’s always a pleasure to see him riding backward in a BRT, with a Hawk tool.