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State of New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
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RELEASE: 10/25/01

CONTACT: Sharon A. Southard or Amy Collings
(609) 984-1795 or 609-292-2994


Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Shinn recently presented the department's highest level of commendation, the Eagle Award, to Dave Harrison, the State Firewarden and Chief of the Forest Fire Service during a retirement dinner at McGuire Air Force Base Officer's Club.

Shinn praised Harrison's 49 years of distinguished service to the state and to the national forest fire protection community.

"Dave is and always will be a legend to the state's forestry service. Everyone knows and wants to talk to Dave. Governors, state legislators, the press and even celebrities like Harrison Ford who stopped by on a number of occasions at DEP's Aeroflex airport in Andover to talk to Dave about what he does and how he does it. They are both avid pilots. Mr. Ford even tried to talk Dave into letting him fly one of our Hueys, but Dave, with much regret, declined," said Shinn.

Harrison started his career with the Forest Fire Service as a crewman in 1952 while a student at Barnegat High School. Over the years, Dave earned the respect of firefighters and state officials by rising through the ranks of DEP and becoming District Forest Firewarden in 1955, and later Chief in 1983. He played a key role in developing a comprehensive Forest Fire Service aviation program and addressed forest fire protection management issues across 20 northeastern states.

"Dave has certainly earned the wings of our Eagle Award. New Jersey's Forest Fire Service is an organization well respected by the wildlife protection community across the United States and is second to none due to the distinguished service of Dave Harrison," said Shinn. "Dave has lead the way through his dedication, knowledge and expertise in promoting the aggressive control of wildfires without compromising firefighter safety."

As an executive member of the Middle Atlantic Forest Fire Protection Compact, Harrison assisted with improving overall wildland firefighting preparedness across the Mid-Atlantic region and served as the compact's historian. He played a major role in protecting New Jersey's wildlife and national resources for 29 years as DEP's Deputy Conservation Officer with the Division of Fish and Wildlife.

Harrison, a Waretown, Ocean County resident, has held an aircraft pilot's license for more than 40 years and will continue to fly missions as needed for the Forest Fire Service. Maris Gabliks, a Lakewood, Ocean County resident, has been appointed Acting Chief and State Firewarden.



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