FSWO announces 2017 winner of the President’s Trailblazer Award, Allison Vickerd

Allison Vickerd puts her heart and soul into firefighting and is one of the most capable firefighters around. She doesn't stop at "good" – she always pushes to "great.” She not only helps out her brothers and sisters on the job, but she cares about her community and is always finding ways to educate and assist anyone who is in need.

Without question, Allison’s accomplishments are many during her almost 20 years in the fire service.

As a firefighter, Alison is extremely hardworking and knowledgeable. Those who have had the privilege of working beside her on the trucks know this. She has personally shared valuable information and training techniques to help us become better firefighters both on and off the job. Allison also brings a great attitude to any task and is not afraid to get into the thick of things at calls and help with anything that needs doing during and after a call.

Off the job Allison has been part of numerous charity events. She was a key organizer in running the London Firefighters Calendar that raised $50,000 for cancer research in the community. Allison is someone whom we can always count on to be there for any charity event when help and assistance are required. Allison also has a competitive nature and fun side when she competed in the 911 Dancing with the Stars and absolutely crushed the competition.

Allison was a key member of Girls in Gear, which introduced high school students to careers in Emergency Services, held at Lambton College in Sarnia, ON.

She served for many years on the Board of Directors for Fire Service Women Ontario and has also chaired the conference planning committee that organizes an annual conference for more than 100 firefighters from across Ontario. Through her FSWO work, Allison serves as one of the lead organizers for Camp FFIT London (Female Firefighters In Training), modeled after Ottawa Fire Services' program. To date, Allison has opened the eyes of 80 Camp FFIT London participants to the possibility of firefighting as a career. Her influence extends well beyond the week of camp - she is always inviting them to participate in various charity events, answering their questions, and in some cases helping them apply for schools and jobs. She is the epitome of a role model, always conducting herself in a professional manner but is still honest and direct with them, while maintaining a great sense of humour. One of our Camp FFIT groups referred to her as their "mom" at the end of the week of camp, and I think that captures her role and passion perfectly.

She has also served on the Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the City of London. Allison also works as a part-time instructor at Lambton College's Fire and Public Safety Centre of Excellence, where she leads both structural and industrial firefighting classes. Allison has received the Lambton College Alumni Award of Distinction, recognizing her outstanding contributions to the profession of firefighting.

In 2012, while off-duty, Allison stopped to help a man who had collapsed during a 10km race that she was also racing in. She quickly responded and managed the situation until an ambulance arrived and was recognized for her efforts by the Canadian Red Cross with a Rescuer’s Award. This wasn’t the first time she assisted someone in crisis while off-duty – while in Tampa, Florida she assisted a patient at an auto accident and received a letter of commendation from that city’s mayor for her efforts.

Truly, Allison’s finest achievement is the contribution that she has made to the lives of young women embarking on a career path to the fire service. She serves as not only an amazing instructor and confident example of what can be accomplished by men and women alike in this job, but, more importantly, she embraces the role of mentor and confidant for her students. She is always available to give them advice based on her personal experiences and to steer them to subject matter experts that she has developed true friendships with as a result of her networking abilities. Allison is the type of instructor who devotes all of her energy and attention to her students learning and finishes the day just as tired and dirty as they are because she believes that leaders do their best work in the trenches with their troops.