GRAFENWOEHR, Germany – Installation Management Command-Europe awarded the U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Fire Department with two awards for FY 2021. For the seventh consecutive year, the department as a whole was recognized as the best medium size fire department across the IMCOM-Europe Region. On an individual level, a lifetime achievement award was bestowed upon Johann Koller, a fire prevention inspector with the USAG Bavaria Hohenfels Fire Department.


Thus far, Koller dedicated 45 total years to preventing fires and saving lives. Since he joined the Hohenfels Fire Department in 1984, Koller accumulated 37 years of experience with the U.S. Army. Throughout his career, he took on the duties and responsibilities of a firefighter, a crew chief and a fire prevention inspector.


In FY 2021, Installation Management Command-Europe bestowed Johann Koller, a fire prevention inspector with the USAG Bavaria Hohenfels Fire Department, a lifetime achievement award. (U.S. Army photo)

According to Koller, the lifetime achievement award came as a “full surprise.”


“My intention is always to help people,” he said. “I am absolutely proud to receive this award. It is a pleasure for me to work with my comrades. As my employer, the U.S. Army always takes care of me.”


The announcement was less shocking – although still equally exciting – to his team members, because they have absolute faith in Koller’s capabilities and work ethic.


“He is a great team player, good leader and effective tutor to new firefighters,” said USAG Bavaria Garrison Fire Chief Josef Rodler. “He is always willing to learn and go a step further than required to motivate his colleges.”


While Koller was honored to accept his individual award, he also expressed delight that the entire USAG Bavaria Fire Department received additional recognition from IMCOM-E.


“It makes me feel good to see that we – the fire crew – had success,” said Koller.


This annual competition is based on medium-sized fire departments’ performances during 2021. From responding to emergencies, conducting trainings, educating the public, providing innovative initiatives, winning awards and more, the USAG Bavaria Fire Department had an eventful year.


The department has fire stations at three installations, spread across 47 million square feet throughout Bavaria. According to the nominating memorandum, the department responded to 2,354 emergencies without major loss and responded to 553 rescue and medical emergency calls during COVID-19 without infecting first responders or spreading the virus – all while safeguarding and protecting a population of 41,000 Soldiers, family members and host nation employees.


To name a few other highlights, the department supported two large-scale airborne exercises within the military training area; enhanced information exchange with host nation dispatch centers to reduce duplication of effort response time and increase relationship and cooperation of emergency responder agencies; trained 180 Soldiers to become certified HAZMAT drivers; and renewed Mutual Aid Agreements with surrounding communities to secure benefits in fire prevention and protection of life and property.


“We have the best motivated, professional trained and experience team mix,” said Rodler. “We also have good comradery between all members of the fire department and work for one goal – helping people when they need help, or support, and protecting the community. This recognition shows the team that they are awarded for the hard, and sometimes very dangerous, work they perform for the community on a daily basis.”


The USAG Bavaria Fire Department will now go on to compete at the U.S. Army Installation Management Command level for Best Fire Department of the Year, Medium Category.

The U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria Fire Department hosted a special signing ceremony to renew community partnership with the Grafenwoehr Fire Department, April 27, 2021. Community leaders recognize the strength of their firefighters and fire department programs when joining forces to work together. (U.S. Army photo by Sidney Sullivan)