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Elko District Office
Release Date: 03/19/13
Contacts: Lesli Ellis , 775-753-0386 ,
News Release No. ELDO 2013-032

Elko District BLM firefighters receive national recognition

Craig Cunningham receives his award from Tim Murphy
Craig Cunningham (left) is presented the 2012 Fire Safety Award from Tim Murphy, Assistant Director, Fire and Aviation Directorate, at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho on March 13, 2013.
ELKO, Nev. – Ruby Mountain Hotshot Assistant Superintendent, Craig Cunningham, is the recipient of the 2012 National Wildland Fire Safety Award. This award is presented annually for outstanding leadership and service in wildland fire safety within the Bureau of Land Management’s Fire and Aviation community.

Cunningham has been a member of the Ruby Mountain Hotshots since their inception in 2001 and was honored for his efforts in creating a more concise debriefing format that is facilitator-led, using summaries and discussion to examine critical points. This approach modifies the after action review process and allows the participants to review the plan, leadership, obstacles, weaknesses and strengths. The debriefing is dynamic and interactive, focusing  on specific topics and issues that happen during an operation. Cunningham is also being recognized for his superior mentorship abilities, training of rural volunteer firefighters and leading his crew through a safe firefighting season.

“I have worked with Craig for nearly 10 years, and each year I am relieved that I have such an outstanding co-worker with an unwavering commitment to safety,” said Gabe Donaldson, Superintendent Ruby Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. “I am certain that with Craig's presence, alternative strategies can be quickly made, and the crew’s safety will never be compromised. Craig is an innovative, creative and insightful firefighter.”

Cunningham was previously recognized by his crews for being firefighter of the year for 2003, 2004 and 2005. He began his career as a crewmember on a Bureau of Indian Affairs Type-2 hand crew in 2001 when he was asked to serve on a two-week detail with the newly formed Ruby Mountain Interagency Hotshot Crew. Due to his superior performance, he was asked to finish the season and has been with the unit since.

Elko District received further accolades with Engine Equipment Operator, Taj Sulahria, being honorably mentioned for his commitment to safe operations during the season.

“I am extremely proud of the accomplishments of all our firefighters and this is an example of that hard work and dedication to the safety of the wildland firefighter program,” said Mike Ford, Elko District Interagency Fire Management Officer. “Both Craig and Taj are excellent firefighters and are a big part of the success of the Elko District’s Interagency firefighting team.” 

The BLM manages more than 245 million acres of public land, the most of any Federal agency. This land, known as the National System of Public Lands, is primarily located in 12 Western states, including Alaska. The BLM also administers 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate throughout the nation. The BLM's mission is to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations. In Fiscal Year 2015, the BLM generated $4.1 billion in receipts from activities occurring on public lands.

Elko District Office   3900 E. Idaho St.      Elko, NV 89801  

Last updated: 04-20-2015