Dave Huigens

Dave Huigens was one of 10 Nebraska firemen recognized with the state Firemanship Award during the 82nd annual Nebraska State Fire School in Grand Island.

The awards, presented during opening ceremonies May 17, honor firefighters who have rendered exceptional service to their departments and communities. Based on local leadership, organizational abilities, participation in training, attendance at meetings, community service and fire emergency response, the awards also honor dependability and trustworthiness.

Huigens, a 22-year member of the Creighton Volunteer Fire Department, was nominated for the award by Scott Carpenter, president of the local department, and Kevin Sonnichsen, Creighton fire chief.

“(Huigens) has shown great leadership skills in the department on emergency calls, always putting the safety and welfare of fellow firemen first,” the local officials wrote. “(He) designed and implemented many complex training drills for our fire department.

“He is usually the first one on a call and the last one to leave, making sure the equipment is ready for the next call. He spends many hours of his personal time working on equipment (and) helps manage the department’s day-to-day affairs.”

Huigens served as lieutenant captain of Creighton’s pumper company for a number of years and has spent countless hours writing grants for the department.

He has been successful in obtaining grant funds from FEMA and the Nebraska Forest Service and has searched for and wrote private-sector grant applications, also successful endeavors.

Grant awards have provided Creighton firefighters with personal protective gear, for both structural and wild fires, a washing machine, communication equipment, foam systems and grain-bin rescue equipment and training, to name a few.

In addition, he wrote successful grant applications for Creighton’s new ambulance.

He has been involved in management and design and implementation of local and county-wide disaster drills.

Huigens is also an ambulance driver and a volunteer member of Nebraska Critical Incident Stress Management Team, which holds debriefings for area emergency personnel after tragic emergency calls, providing an avenue for emergency responders to de-escalate and cope with the stress and anxiety that come from responding to tragic situations.

CISM is a joint effort between the Nebraska State Fire Marshal, Nebraska State Patrol, Nebraska Emergency Management Agency and Health and Human Services EMS Section.

“He is always looking around the community for people in need, whether it is a helping hand, a shoulder to lean on, or financial support, he is always there to help,” Carpenter and Sonnichsen wrote.