Fire Chief of the Year honouree – Gary Ludwig

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Chief Ludwig_Career

The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC), in partnership with Pierce Manufacturing Inc., announced the 2022 IAFC Fire Chief of the Year honorees. Volunteer Fire Chief, Marshall Turbeville, of the Northern Sonoma FPD in Sonoma County, California, and career Fire Chief, Gary Ludwig, of the Champaign Fire Department in Champaign, Illinois, have been named this year’s honorees. 

The IAFC began recognizing one volunteer and one career Fire Chief of the Year in 1996. A selection committee appointed by the IAFC reviewed nominations for active chiefs of departments who have shown exemplary contributions in the areas of leadership, innovation, professional development, integrity, public service, and contributions to the fire service. The annual “IAFC Fire Chief of the Year” awards were presented at Fire-Rescue International (FRI) in San Antonio, Texas on August 24. 

“It is always an honour to recognize the brave men and women who have dedicated so much to their communities through the fire service, and as the sponsor of the IAFC Fire Chief of the Year Awards, we always look forward to announcing the honorees.” said Jim Johnson, Oshkosh Corporation executive vice president and president, Fire & Emergency. “Chief Turbeville and Chief Ludwig have shown exceptional leadership for their departments, particularly through the difficulties of the past several years, and personify the qualities of professionals and mentors for those throughout the fire service. On behalf of the Pierce Manufacturing team, I’d like to extend our gratitude for their dedication, and congratulate them on a well-deserved honor.” 

Career Fire Chief Honoree – Gary Ludwig, Champaign Fire Department (Champaign, Illinois) 

Chief Gary Ludwig serves as the Fire Chief for the Champaign, Illinois Fire Department and boasts 45 years of fire, rescue, and EMS experience. He is also a past President and Chairman of the Board for the IAFC, serving during the 2019-20 term. At the age of 18, just two months out of high school, he began his fire service career in St. Louis, Missouri. He rose through the ranks of the department, becoming Chief Paramedic after 25 years of service. He served as Deputy Fire Chief for the Memphis Fire Department in Tennessee before becoming Chief in Champaign, Illinois. He holds a master’s degree in Business and Management and has been a licensed paramedic for over 43 years. He has written over 500 articles for professional fire and EMS publications and is the author of five books. He has also been invited to speak at over 400 professional EMS or fire conferences or seminars and testified several times before committees in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

During his term as IAFC President, Chief Ludwig was faced with the crisis of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. In the early days of March 2020, several weeks prior to the shutdown in the United States, Chief Ludwig implemented a Coronavirus Task Force consisting of fire chiefs, IAFF leaders, physicians, and private industry. The Task Force met weekly and conveyed vital information to members across the country. Chief Ludwig’s actions led the fire service through the pandemic during the most difficult time. From early March 2020 until mid-July 2020, he addressed the many challenges facing the fire service including the crisis of a PPE shortage, 2022 Volunteer and Career Fire Chiefs of the Year Announced by IAFC, in partnership with Pierce testing, quarantining, and the deaths of firefighters from the virus. He further established a 24- hour round the clock operations center at the IAFC to establish a fusion center for data and information. Chief Ludwig testified several times in front of House committees on the needs of the fire service during and after the pandemic, including the need to prioritize firefighters and EMS personnel when vaccines became available. 

Some of Chief Ludwig’s other notable accomplishments include: 

  • Established an Economic Task Force in March 2020 to help fire chiefs and departments navigate through reduced tax revenue caused by the pandemic and where to find federal funding, utilizing email and webinars to get the information out to members 
  • Worked directly with Congress on pandemic related funding measures for emergency services including six different House and Senate Appropriations Committees 
  • Published five books including, “401 Things Veteran Firefighters Can Teach You” in 2020, “Fully Involved Leadership” in 2019, “Welcome to the Butterbeck School of Mismanagement” in 2017, “Blood, Sweat, Tears, and Prayers” in 2015, and 1992’s “Computers in the EMS and Fire Service” 

Regarded as an expert in the fire service, Chief Ludwig’s leadership embodies what it means to be a Fire Chief of the Year.

For more news updates, check out our July/August issue here.

Media contact

Editor, International Fire Buyer

Tel: +44 (0) 1622 823 922


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