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By Member John Long, Jr.
April 20, 2021


On April 17, 2021, David Lewis (second from left) received the Maryland Fire Chiefs Chief John W. Hoglund Leadership Award for 2021.

David joined the Odenton Volunteer Fire Company (OVFC) when he was 18 years old and is now a Life Member with 49 years of service. He has served on many committees and became an active firefighter, rising to the rank of Assistant Chief. He continues to actively support the company, both administratively and operationally. David was elected OVFC President in 2017 and served for two years. He established the Vision 2031 Committee to develop a strategic planning framework for the future of OVFC. David has also been successful in obtaining multiple grants for the fire company, providing over $1,000,000 in funding to acquire much needed equipment and to enhance the recruitment and retention efforts.

David is also very active with the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighters Association (AACVFA). He served as the Association’s President on two separate occasions: 1983-1984 and 2006-2007. He served as Chairman of the AACVFA Board of Trustees from 1988 through 2011 and nearly single-handedly managed the Anne Arundel County Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP). Upon stepping down as Trustee, David was given the honorary title of Trustee Emeritus and continued supporting the elected Board of Trustees in managing the LOSAP program. In January 2017, David and several individuals were successful in obtaining the Anne Arundel County Council and County Executive approval of new LOSAP legislation which increased the benefits for eligible members and overhauled the point system to reflect the importance of retaining active volunteers. For his sustained work and dedication, David was awarded the “Fire, Rescue, EMS Individual of the Year Award” by the Association in 2001, 2007, and 2016. He was also recognized by the Anne Arundel County One Hundred Club as an Unsung Hero in 2006. David was inducted in the AACVFA Hall of Fame in 2000.

David has faithfully served the Maryland State Firemen's Association (MSFA) since 1978. He served in a number of committee positions, and ultimately moved up to greater responsibilities and was MSFA President in 2011-2012. While President, he interacted with each MSFA committee to identify their individual goals and develop a roadmap for success. He initiated two new committees, the Cancer Support Network and the Wills for Heroes. He led legislative efforts in several areas, including the passage of the statewide residential sprinkler requirement, making Maryland only one of two states to require residential sprinklers in all new single-family dwellings. Other initiatives implemented during David’s tenure as President were legislation to ensure full funding of the Charles W. Riley Scholarship Program, and a study on increasing support for the Maryland Emergency Medical System Operating Fund. He increased funding to the MSFA fire prevention grant program and initiated the fire prevention intern program with the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

Since completing his term as President, David remains active with the MSFA, currently serving as a member of the Recruitment and Retention Committee, Grants Committee, Volunteer Incentives Committee, and Convention Committee. As a member of the Convention Committee, David manages the contracts for more than 130 exhibitors who participate in the annual convention. David was inducted in the MSFA Hall of Fame in 2000, was awarded the Gladhill - Thompson trophy in 2016, which is considered the highest MSFA award, and was awarded the Robert Shimer Administrative Person of the Year in 2019.

David has been a member of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association (MFCA) since 1985, joining when he became our Assistant Chief. He has attended nearly every Maryland Chief Officers Seminar since 1982 as well as other MCFA training events. In 2014, David delivered the keynote Chief Officers Seminar presentation, “See Something – Say Something, Emergency Services Role in Homeland Security.” He has since repeated this successful presentation at several conferences across the state and the country. Because of his passions to give back to the future of the fire service and to improve the health and safety of firefighters, David joined with the MFCA Training Committee to deliver awareness programs on these matters. A decision was made in 2018 to split training from health and safety to form a new committee. David was asked to co-chair this new Health and Safety Committee. As co-chair of the Health and Safety Committee, David is pressing for further dissemination to firefighters on the dangers of cancer and suicide in the fire service.

David had a lead role in obtaining a $2.2 million grant for MSFA and MFCA under FEMA’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. Both MSFA and MFCA sought this grant to enhance the statewide recruitment and retention program and to develop volunteer fire service leaders. David co-authored the MSFA proposal. When the decision was made to merge the MSFA and MFCA applications, he assisted in brokering an agreement that defined the roles and authorities of each organization in the grant award. Upon receipt of the award notification in June 2014, he developed an implementation plan for the four-year management of the grant projects and chaired the SAFER Grant Oversight Committee. One of the first actions was to identify a statewide recruitment day where every member company was asked to open their doors on the same date to promote volunteer recruitment in their communities. David also worked closely with the MSFA Marketing Committee to develop programs to market the value of the volunteer emergency services and the value of the MSFA to its membership. The SAFER grant has also enabled the development of future leaders through advanced training and conference opportunities.

David has expanded his support to the volunteer emergency services across Maryland and across the country. He serves as a Director for the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association and as one of two Maryland Directors to the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC). In each role, he continually represents the interests of Maryland providers and brings information back from these organizations to share it with member departments. He is fully committed to seeing that volunteer services succeed and does everything to help ensure their success.

Upon his retirement from the federal government in 2002, David joined the full-time faculty of the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute (MFRI), responsible for the development and implementation of training programs in response to the new threat of terrorism and the initiation of the National Incident Management System. It was at MFRI that David got the opportunity to understand the heritage started by John W. Hoglund and set his own goals to mirror the image of a professional instructor that John started. He remained full-time faculty until 2013, when he left because of his desire to spend more time teaching which was generally not available in a faculty position. David continues to deliver training programs across the state of Maryland as a MFRI field instructor, mostly in the officer development curriculum helping to develop new leaders for the fire service.

Now David enjoys spending time in the classroom developing the leadership of tomorrow to accept the challenges of the modern fire service. He is a Maryland certified emergency services instructor for the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and also a contract instructor for the National Fire Academy (NFA). David is also an Adjunct Associate Professor for the University of Maryland Global College, delivering classes in Public Safety Administration and Homeland Security. David was recognized by the MSFA with the Francis L. Brannigan Instructor of the Year in 2014. David has traveled to more than 20 states, delivering training programs or conference presentations on behalf of the NFA, the NVFC, or as an independent conference speaker.

David has also been active in the development of training programs to be delivered across the United States to improve the quality of fire personnel and their officers. In 2017, he was one of the authors of the NVFC’s text, “Volunteer Fire Service Culture: Essential Strategies for Success.” Following the publication of this text, David was contracted by the NVFC to develop a full-day classroom presentation based on the content of the text. David has also been a member of several technical committees supporting the development of firefighter textbooks by the International Fire Service Training Association (IFSTA). He participated in the development of Emergency Response to Terrorist Attacks, Hazardous Materials for First Responders (third edition), and Fire and Emergency Services Company Officer (both fifth and sixth editions).

David’s true passion is for the health and safety of today’s firefighters. As a member of the NVFC and the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (IAFC/VCOS), David was deeply involved in the development of the Yellow Ribbon Report on mental wellness and the Lavender Ribbon Report on actions to prevent firefighter cancer. David has developed and delivered training programs across Maryland and the country to help spread the message of these two critical health and safety matters. In recognition for his contributions to health and safety, David was awarded the Chief James P. Seavey Health and Wellness Leadership Award in 2020. This national level award signifies David’s strong passion and support of the health and safety of America’s firefighters.

The Maryland Fire Chiefs Association’s John W. Hoglund Leadership Award seeks to recognize an individual who has displayed leadership in advancing the health, safety, and readiness of the Maryland fire, rescue, and emergency services. Director Hoglund never sought out awards and recognition but dedicated his life to America’s firefighters because he cared about each and every one of them. David carries that same passion and has made his own mission to improve the health and safety of every firefighter he meets. The OVFC can think of a no better candidate for this award than David W. Lewis who exemplifies the qualities represented by this award through his actions at a local, county, state, and national level.

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