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Locals Receive Governor’s 2013 Fire Service Awards

Stilwell, Hollingsworth, Wais and Rosenthal are honored.

Four local people were among those honored last Saturday, Feb. 22, with Governor’s Fire Service Awards for 2013. They were feted during the Virginia Fire and Rescue Conference at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

This year marked the 12th anniversary of these awards, which formally recognize excellence in Virginia’s Fire Services. Award recipients included Renee Stilwell, Capt. George Hollingsworth, Hassibullah Wais and Philip Rosenthal. Below are the details of why they were honored:

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Renee Stilwell

Renee Stilwell, of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Virginia’s Public Fire and Life Safety Education. It’s given to a person who exemplifies outstanding dedication and service for the furtherance of Virginia Public Fire and Life Safety Education, not only in their own department, but also in other areas of the Commonwealth.

Stilwell was selected for this award for her “immeasurable contribution to the safety of more than 1.1 million residents of Fairfax County. She has been vigilant in bringing fire and life safety education to children and older adults. Stilwell directs and executes three specific and vital programs in an effort to educate and provide intervention for thousands annually.” They are: Project SAFE (for third-graders); Every Step of the Way (preschool and older adults), and FIRE STOP (aimed at juvenile fire setters).

Stilwell has educated approximately 200 juvenile fire setters; providing vital intervention for these youths with individualized sessions. She and her teams educate over 50,000 children and older adults annually on fire safety and prevention. Renee Stilwell has conducted and continues to conduct an outstanding and robust fire and life safety education program in the 18th largest school system in the country.

Philip Rosenthal, president of Nationwide Credit Corp. in Fairfax, received the private sector Governor’s Award for Excellence in Virginia’s Fire Service Support. It goes to a private-sector or nonprofit entity that’s demonstrated “exceptional dedication to the success of Virginia Fire Services throughout the Commonwealth.”

Rosenthal was feted for actively supporting Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department’s toy drive for more than 15 years. The toy drive was initially created to help 50 children in low-income areas, but it now serves more than 3,000 children at more than 70 schools, shelters and nonprofit organizations. Rosenthal’s help has enabled the department to establish backpack/school-supply and winter-coat drives allowing Fairfax to give away more than 2,200 backpacks and more than 2,500 new winter coats in 2013.

Hassibullah Wais of Fairfax received the Governor’s Civilian Life-Saving Award. It goes to any civilian, with no fire service affiliation, who exemplifies “an outstanding dedication to helping protect the citizens of Virginia against the devastating effects of fire.”

On Nov. 26, 2013, units from Fire Stations 15 (Chantilly) and 17 (West Centreville) were dispatched for an auto accident with injuries and vehicles on fire. As the West Centreville fire engine arrived on the scene, the unit officer witnessed Wais directing and assisting other citizens in removing an injured person away from one of the vehicles on fire.

Wais was then able to provide responders with valuable patient information, as well as information about the other driver, who had fled the scene. Wais also advised the firefighters that there were no other occupants in the burning vehicles. His actions “were instrumental in a successful outcome of this event.”

Capt. George Hollingsworth, a Fairfax County Fire Marshal, received the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Virginia Fire Prevention. It’s given to someone who’s demonstrated “exceptional dedication to the field of fire prevention – to include the adoption, amendment or interpretation of the Statewide Fire Prevention Code, Statewide Building Code, other related codes or fire prevention principles that would impact not only their own jurisdiction, but other localities.”

Hollingsworth has served Fairfax County Fire and Rescue in various capacities for about 29 years. He’s devoted the last seven years of his career to the cause of Fire Prevention in Virginia. He’s helped develop national and state codes, represented his department and Virginia at International Code Council hearings and regional meetings, and continually contributes to the International Fire Service Training Assn.’s textbook on inspections and code enforcement.