News | March 3, 2021

DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators

By Natalie Skelton, DLA Aviation Public Affairs

You may not know them until you need them, but the firefighters and staff of Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond’s Fire and Emergency Services are a critical element of Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia’s emergency response teams.

DLA Installation Management awarded two top employees with the 2020 Fire Officer of the Year and 2020 Firefighter of the Year honors: Training Chief William Hock and Fire Inspector Eric Crognale, respectively. Both men are eligible to compete for the DLA Fire and Emergency Services awards for their respective categories.

Hock’s nominator, Assistant Chief Rick Ferrell, said, “Training Chief Hock is a well-respected leader among his peers and within the fire and emergency services community. As the department’s accreditation manager and training officer, he utilizes critical thinking skills with great success, enhancing the programs under his oversight.”

Ferrell adds that Hock’s efforts “have gone a long way to ensure mission success within emergency services.”

DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators
Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond, Virginia’s 2020 Fire Officer of the Year William Hock, training chief, DLA Installation Management Richmond’s Fire and Emergency Services Branch, instructs DLA police and firefighters during a Red Cross Basic Life Support Instructor’s Course Feb. 25, 2021, on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)
DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators
DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators
Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond, Virginia’s 2020 Fire Officer of the Year William Hock, training chief, DLA Installation Management Richmond’s Fire and Emergency Services Branch, instructs DLA police and firefighters during a Red Cross Basic Life Support Instructor’s Course Feb. 25, 2021, on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)
Photo By: Jackie Roberts
VIRIN: 210225-D-YB435-1001
Hock worked continuously to maintain top-notch fire services for DSCR while developing and nurturing a strong employee program. He published a 78-page Career Progression Guide; he led firefighters in human capital development by providing each rank within the department a road map of the various education degrees, certifications, and associations to help prepare for career progression. He secured training opportunities for his staff, including a training tower, validated a training plan, and facilitated search-and-rescue training.

As a leader, Hock successfully manages and maintains the department’s many resources. He manages training equipment though a budgetary/audit readiness process; makes strategic purchases that have resulted in enhanced firefighting for simulated tasks, and has set his five-year budget for of the following year’s training.

Hock said among his most satisfying accomplishments on the job was hosting mutual aid partnerships with Chesterfield County, Virginia’s Fire and EMS for joint training. The training was spread over a two-month period and saw upwards of 250 firefighters participate in the training drills.

“Having the ability to simulate a major fire ground operation and see multiple fire units come together and meet a common goal brings satisfaction and a feeling of accomplishment to the job as a training chief,” Hock said.

Moving forward, Hock said he hopes his profession is seen as just that: a profession.

“I believe when most people look at the fire service, they see it as a blue-collar job, just spraying water on a fire, but it is much more,” he said.

Hock said as the fire service continues to evolve and improve, “My hope is the profession is seen for what it truly is. All of us must hold certifications to do our jobs, many of us hold undergraduate or graduate degrees, and others have been credentialed by peer reviewing organizations.”

He added that he would like to see the Defense Department follow civilian agencies’ lead and implement degree and credential requirement for DOD fire chief officer positions.

“In the end, having a department with members that not only have job experience, but are also educated and credentialed by an outside organization, only brings a better product to the community they serve.” Hock said.

Fire Inspector Eric Crognale is a proven innovator who implemented procedures designed to improve functionality and reporting accuracy. He created a report to identify fire alarm and suppression system malfunction trends; he provided the installation support alarm technicians an ability to rank system repairs; reduced system downtimes and decreased vulnerable facilities.  He also redesigned the DLA Youth Programs Guide with updated policies that kept 125 children safe.

DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators
Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond, Virginia’s 2020 Firefighter of the Year Eric Crognale, fire inspector with DLA Installation Management Richmond’s Fire Prevention Office inspects power strips for code compliance during a quarterly inspection with the building’s fire warden Feb. 25, 2021, on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)
DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators
DSCR fire officer, firefighter of the year proven leaders and innovators
Defense Logistics Agency Installation Management Richmond, Virginia’s 2020 Firefighter of the Year Eric Crognale, fire inspector with DLA Installation Management Richmond’s Fire Prevention Office inspects power strips for code compliance during a quarterly inspection with the building’s fire warden Feb. 25, 2021, on Defense Supply Center Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jackie Roberts)
Photo By: Jackie Roberts
VIRIN: 210225-D-YB435-1002
Crognale said something that the average layperson might not know about his work as a fire inspector is the role of risk advisor.

“We act as risk advisors to the site director, facility operations, and to the US Army Corps of Engineers,” he said. “In addition to reporting on fire and life safety risks, we are involved in all stages of building design, construction and renovation on the installation, ensuring that the fire and life safety features of each building meets the current code requirements.”

In addition to these accomplishments—and many more—Crognale was being recognized for his exceptional leadership qualities. In his role, he led his team in database migration/facility valuation; spearheaded an internal audit to correct discrepancies; developed a hazmat hotline manager training program and ensured total program consistency. He also led and facilitated the Fire Protection Working Group to lower facility risk.

Crognale demonstrated innovation and resourcefulness to maintain safety across the installation during the pandemic. He created an alternate plan for Bettye Ackerman-Cobb Child Development Center to hold fire drills while maintaining social distancing, and he met monthly evacuation drill standards with a safety-first attitude during COVID-19 restrictions.

In the future, Crognale hopes to expand the department’s public education program to engage more of the installation’s population in fire and life safety training and familiarization activities.

“Giving our personnel a chance to participate in public training events such as smoke houses, evacuation simulators, firefighter-for-a-day, and other initiatives would help promote a fire safety mindset in the workplace and at home, potentially reducing risk for all of our DLA community.” Crognale said.

Ferrell said Inspector Crognale is a tremendous asset to the Fire Prevention Office.

“His dedication to public service and to the safety of those who work and visit the Defense Supply Center Richmond is evident with each assignment he takes on and completes,” Ferrell said. “He has dedicated himself to the success of the fire and emergency services mission of protecting those who support the warfighter.”