Daily News

Coast Guard Fire Chief Keeps Shipyard Safe

Jan 18, 2013

The Coast Guard Yard, founded in 1899, is the Coast Guard’s only shipyard and is responsible for construction, repairs and renovations of the Coast Guard’s surface fleet and aids to navigation, as well as repairing and manufacturing marine parts and equipment. It’s important work that keeps the fleet afloat and more than 1,700 personnel work on the 113-acre facility.

With so many people, units and equipment at the yard, it takes a team effort to keep the shipyard safe. One of the most important teams is the Yard Fire Department and one of their biggest standouts is Chief Petty Officer Dennis Amerson.

The fire department provides emergency medical, environmental and hazardous material response services for operations taking place at the yard. Since 1910, the fire department has been staffed by Coast Guardsmen who are responsible for providing fire protection and prevention services for the entire facility.

Amerson – who enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1998 and spent his first duty assignment aboard Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell in Alameda, Calif. – currently supervises the 12 active duty, reserve and auxiliary members; his exemplary leadership is critical in keeping the yard safe. Department personnel are also directly related to the Yard’s mission of repairing ships as they perform all atmosphere testing for workers engaged in the hazardous environment of ship repair.

The armed forces fire and emergency services community is on duty 24-hours a day, every day, sometimes putting their own lives on the line while protecting those who defend America. Most go unnoticed, but each year the Department of Defense recognizes outstanding accomplishments and honors fire departments, fire fighters and heroes through the annual DOD Fire and Emergency Services Awards Program. Last year, the Department of Defense honored Amerson as the U.S. Coast Guard Military Fire Officer of the Year.

“DCC Amerson is an outstanding chief petty officer and damage controlman,” said Cmdr. Patrick Dozier, the yard’s executive officer. “The job he performs daily as fire marshall and manager of the atmosphere testing program for cutter confined and enclosed spaces is vital to the success of the yard’s ship repair and construction operations. His nomination and selection by DOD as the top among all Coast Guard fire officers is testimony to his professionalism, leadership and technical savvy.”

As a true testament to his leadership, not only was Amerson honored, but the Coast Guard Yard Fire Department won Fire Prevention Program of the Year for the Coast Guard.

“DCC Amerson truly exemplifies the best qualities we seek in a chief petty officer,” said Cmdr. John Barresi, chief of the yard facilities management department. “He’s an exceptional leader and a committed professional who has earned the respect of the command and crew for his dedication supporting industrial operations as well as for his enthusiasm training his team.”

“ His excellent outreach efforts and strong relationships with the City of Baltimore and Anne Arundel County fire departments have also been incredibly influential in reinforcing mutual aid, joint training, and incident response,” added Barresi. “It is fitting he’s been selected for this prestigious award.”