At the FDIC International 2019 Opening Ceremony Day 2 on Thursday, April 11, 2019, at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis, Captain Bill Gustin of the Miami-Dade (FL) Fire Rescue Department (above) received the 2019 Tom Brennan Lifetime Achievement Award before a crowd of more than 2,500 attendees.
Gustin is a 45-year veteran of the fire service. He began his career in 1973 as a volunteer firefighter in the Chicago area. He is a third-generation firefighter; his father and grandfather were officers on the Chicago (IL) Fire Department. He began his career with Miami-Dade in 1978, was promoted to the rank of lieutenant in 1983, and was promoted to captain in 1986. He is a lead instructor in Miami-Dade’s Officer Development Program. He has taught fire science classes, industrial fire safety, and shipboard firefighting for Miami-Dade College. He also conducts training programs for firefighters throughout the United States and Canada. Gustin has taught forcible entry techniques to local and federal law enforcement agencies. He is a technical editor of Fire Engineering and an advisory board member of FDIC International.
Gustin has worked as an instructor and advisor for the U.S. Agency For International Development and has conducted training programs for fire brigades in several Caribbean countries. He was also a member of Miami-Dade’s International Disaster Response Team and participated in the rescue of people trapped in collapsed buildings resulting from earthquakes in the former Soviet Union in 1988 and in the Philippines in 1990. He was a member of the FEMA working group that established the organization and standards for Urban Search and Rescue Teams that respond to domestic and international disasters. Gustin was named Florida’s Firefighter of the Year in 1990 for rescuing a woman and her child who were trapped between a fire and iron burglar bars on the windows and doors of their home.
In presenting the award, FDIC International Education Director Chief (Ret.) Bobby Halton said: “We now have a precious opportunity to acknowledge a man for his work, his passion, his dedication, and his character. It is sorely important we do so, for men of the type we honor this morning are indispensable. The world as we know it with all its wonder has been crafted in no small measure properly by men such as Bill Gustin. Much of what we hold dear and much of what we find good comes from the unrestrained efforts of men and women like Bill Gustin.”
Fire Engineering EMS Technical Editor Mike McEvoy: “Bill Gustin has given his entire life to the fire service and in that time accomplished and contributed more than most could ever dream of achieving. Known for his pranks, jokes, and witty sarcasm, Bill is a consummate professional with an open mind. Besides writing and teaching, he continually learns from others, leads by example, and treats everyone respectfully--even the intoxicated homeless patient on a 2 a.m. EMS run.”
Chief (Ret.) Rick Lasky, Lewisville (TX) Fire Department: “His dedication to our profession is paralleled by few. He is that great boss you’ve always heard about, and I wished I could have worked for him.”
Battalion Chief (Ret.) Jerry Tracy, Fire Department of New York: “There are very few individuals in the fire service who can explain in detail how to deliver water from the street main to the fire; through engine apparatus, hose, and nozzle combinations; and the complexities of standpipe systems. The information is presented in terms simple enough for a truckie to understand.”
Battalion Chief (Ret.) John Mittendorf, Los Angeles City (CA) Fire Department: “Although Bill’s fireground credentials are well known, his reputation and outgoing love for the fire service also highlight his attributes and high standards, which are underscored by his desire to enhance the fire service and those people around him.”
Deputy Assisstant Chief (Ret.) John Norman, Fire Department of New York: “Bill's approach is always well grounded in realistic methods that work with minimal staffing, minimal tools, and maximum safety for the firefighter. What more can a fire officer or fire instructor hope to achieve?”
Fire Engineering Technical Editor Glenn Corbett: “Bill Gustin is the most dedicated student of the fire service that I have ever known. He is incredibly detail oriented, making sure he understands exactly how something works or doesn’t work. As a technical editor of Fire Engineering, he actually builds and tests the hose packs described in articles that have been submitted for publication. At a time when many senior firefighters would begin to coast out the rest of their careers, Bill is on his hands and knees still striving to discover one new nugget of firefighting information that he can share with others.”
Chief Steve Pegram, Goshen Township (OH) Fire and EMS: “I met Bill like so many others through fire training, first at FDIC and then when I was invited to join the FDIC Advisory Board. When you meet Bill, it's easy to become friends. He is interested in you, where you’re from, where you work, what kind of hose load you carry, and what kind of nozzle you use.”
Captain (Ret.) Michael Dugan, Fire Department of New York: “Who is better deserving than Bill? This is a man who has lived, breathed, and more importantly taught the fire service for his entire adult life. Bill is a lifetime learner and therefore a lifetime teacher. Bill is a unique individual and is fun to be around because he lights up a room. But if you want to see my friend Bill light up, start talking to him about something going on in the fire service. He is passionate, driven, and willing to do whatever is necessary to make the fire service and his beloved Miami Dade Fire Rescue better. There is no one I know who has given more to the fire service than my friend Bill Gustin!”
Fire Marshal (Ret.)/Former Deputy Chief Jack Murphy, Leonia (NJ) Fire Department: “I met Bill in 1997 at PennWell’s first FDIC conference. A wealth of knowledge was opened to a network of Bill’s writings, lectures, and conversations. His unique training style is a mixture of job experiences, good firehouse stories, research, and training. With training, whether it be a company drill or a new approach to an existing method, new equipment, or an innovative technique, he is willing to try it and see how it works. As a Drum Major, he leads the Fire Engineering ‘Hump Day Hangout’ panel and guests on the podcast that serves as a national launching pad for his inquisitive ‘down to earth’ mindset on fire related matters and challenges where he continually offers praise to those with whom he has borrowed thoughts to get the point across. I am proud to be one of the many firefighters that Bill generously shares his broad fire service expertise with to making our job a little safer.”
Halton concluded: “Few friends have been as consistent, as sincere, and as impressive as Bill. Whether we are discussing firefighting, our children, or our love of our military and our beloved United States of America, Bill is unhesitatingly attentive. Bill is curious, honest, kind, and decent. Captain Bill Gustin has led from the front his entire life. He is without guile or motive. He harbors no ill will toward anyone. Captain Bill Gustin loves only one thing above the fire service, and that is his family, especially his children. Maybe in that alone he is the richest man in this room. And in that alone, he is truly a lifetime achievement winner.”
INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR
Anthony “Andoni” Kastros (above) received the 2019 Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award.
Battalion Chief Anthony "Andoni" Kastros is a 32-year veteran of the fire service, having spent the past 13 years as a line battalion chief for Sacramento (CA) Metro Fire District. His passion for training comes from a deep family tradition in the fire service. He is the author of several best-selling books and videos from Fire Engineering, including Mastering the Fire Service Assessment Center, Mastering Fireground Command-Calming the Chaos! and Mastering Unified Command-From Hometown to Homeland. He has been an FDIC International instructor and written articles for Fire Engineering for the past 10 years and was the FDIC International keynote speaker in 2013. In 1994, he founded his training team, now known as Trainfirefighters.com, through which he has trained thousands of firefighters from around the world in command, tactics, leadership and officer development. He deployed to New York on September 11, 2001, as part of Sacramento FEMA Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 7 and spent four years on a Type 1 Incident Management Team responding to some of America's largest wildfires. Kastros’ promotional workshops and book have helped countless fire service professionals promote to the position they seek.
Devon J. Wells, president of the ISFSI: “Chief Kastros is a prime example of humility as an instructor. He has a sincere desire to increase the knowledge, effectiveness, and safety of firefighters through his work teaching and as an author. Firefighters who have had the opportunity to learn from, talk to, and associate with Anthony feel the attention he gives each individual. He truly embodies selfless passion as a fire instructor, firefighter, friend, and family member.”
In presenting the award, the ISFSI said: “Chief Kastros was chosen for this award for the impact that his tireless passion for training has made on the fire service. Anthony is a true man of character whose commitment to service is a shared value that he and his two brothers applied to the fire service after learning from their father, a decorated World War II veteran.
“His video series bring specific knowledge, skills, and abilities to not just the fire service but also members of law enforcement. His book provides unparalleled coaching for future leaders of the fire service. It is when working with these future leaders that Anthony’s commitment to always looking toward a brighter future and his constant drive to improve the fire service is most evident. His passion for improving leadership within the fire service is second to none, as he is a true mentor and provides impactful leadership at every turn.
“Through his work with TrainFirefighters.com, Anthony has delivered specific tools to more than 150 organizations, helping them effectively apply aggressive command and tactics while protecting their communities. He has reached countless more in the fire service with his webcast blog talk radio programs. Through his work, Chief Kastros has repeatedly brought significant attention to the NIOSH 5, ensuring that we look closely at our strategies and tactics. This has surely saved lives of both firefighters and civilians in the communities we protect.
“Anthony said it best in his keynote at FDIC 2013, when he cited Proverbs 27/17, ‘As Iron sharpens Iron, so one man sharpens another.’ There is no better way to articulate what his impact has been on the fire service, and it is for these reasons that we are proud to present the award to Chief Anthony Kastros.”
The award, which incorporates the Training Achievement Award previously given by Fire Engineering at the FDIC, is named for George D. Post, who was a long-time member of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI). Post was a member of the Fire Department of New York, an illustrator of fire service publications, and a developer of instructional materials and is considered by many to be the father of visual training material used to train fire service personnel around the world.