RVFD Member Inducted into MSFA Hall of Fame


Past Chief Russell W. Dawson was inducted into the Maryland State Firemen’s Association Hall of Fame at their annual convention on June 20, 2023. Chief Dawson, who has been a member of RVFD since 1977, was honored for his contribution to RVFD, Montgomery County and the fire service in Maryland.

During the same ceremony, RVFD President Eric Bernard and RVFD members presented the Marberry Gates Service Cup, which is sponsored by RVFD, to Charles J. Simpson, Jr. from the Westminster Fire Department and Pleasant Valley Community Fire Department in Carroll County. The Gates Cup honors those with over 50 years of service to their department and is in honor of Mr. Gates, who was a charter member of RVFD and president for 25 years. Mr. Simpson was also elected as the MSFA 2nd Vice President at the Convention.

Chief Dawson first joined the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad in March 1974, where he quickly became one of the first cardiac rescue technicians. When ALS service was introduced at RVFD in 1976, he answered the call to help staff the medic unit and then joined RVFD in July 1977. Since then, he has maintained dual membership in both organizations, serving in a number of ranks and offices.

While at RVFD, Chief Dawson has provided service in both the EMS division, where he was a cardiac rescue technician and later a NREMT Paramedic, and in the fire/rescue division where he was a firefighter and driver operator of all RVFD apparatus.

Over the 46 years of service to RVFD, Chief Dawson has served as the President of RVFD for two years, the Fire Chief for seven years, a deputy or assistant chief for 16 years (he is a current deputy chief), a member of the Board of Directors for 10 years, and on which he currently serves, vice-president, treasurer and as the Department secretary for 15 years. In addition to those elected positions, Chief Dawson is the Department’s network administrator and webmaster, responsible for all the Department’s information technology operations.

For many years, Chief Dawson provided concurrent service to both RVFD and BCCRS. While at BCCRS, he was a line officer, ultimately serving as assistant or deputy chief for seven years, as a paramedic and heavy rescue squad driver/operator. In fact, for several years, he stood a two standby shifts at BCCRS and a third standby shift at RVFD each week.

As a Montgomery County Fire/Rescue certified command officer, Chief Dawson routinely serves as the Volunteer Duty Operations Chief responsible for county-wide command activities, in cooperation with the career Duty Operations Chief.

In addition to his service to RVFD and BCCRS, Chief Dawson has been active in providing service to Montgomery County. He was a member of the Montgomery County Fire and Emergency Services Commission for three years and was a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary for the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association for 10 years. He served as the co-chair of the Montgomery County Medical Review Committee for 11 years, where he co-wrote the county’s initial EMS Quality Assurance Plan.

Chief Dawson was elected to the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire Rescue Association Hall of Fame in September 2007. In addition to that honor, he was chosen as the RVFD Officer of the Year in 2003, received the RVFD Distinguished Service Award (the Department’s highest honor) in 2011, the Rockville City Chamber of Commerce Community Service Award in 2006 and the Chamber’s Distinguished Service Citation in 2010.

Chief Dawson has provided all this volunteer service while still working full-time in the field of clinical data management and systems for clinical research.

Sometimes volunteers who have been very active in the fire/rescue service for several years due to work or family obligations, step back for a period of time. Chief Dawson has been active every year of the 49 years of his volunteer fire service career.

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