Bud Brinkerhoff in the classroom.
Bud Brinkerhoff at Jeep headquarters in Detroit.
Placitas firefighter wins grand prize in Jeep program
Bud Brinkerhoff, a firefighter and emergency medical technician
for the Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade, was nominated earlier this
year by assistant fire chief Drew Owens for the Jeep Heroes program.
Here is Owens’s letter:
Bud joined our department just three years ago with virtually
no prior firefighting experience. Even during his probationary
period, Bud attended firefighting school and became certified
by the State as both a structural firefighter and wildland firefighter.
He has attended virtually all our internal training and sought
training in the region whenever available. He became our Community
Liaison officer and has spearheaded many school presentations
on fire safety to elementary and preschool children. He unselfishly
serves our community, responding to over fifty percent of our
400+ calls per year. Bud is first to volunteer for any task or
program we initiate, including his mentoring of new recruits,
developing a cadet program, and authoring a hot zone firefighter
testing procedure. He is the type of participating citizen willing
to give unselfishly of his time and energy that every community
in America wishes they had more of.
Brinkerhoff was selected from among than twenty-five hundred entries
for his “Exemplary, Unique & Heroic Service.” He
is one of four grand-prize winners—one in each of four categories—to
be recognized in a nationwide program established by the Jeep brand
to honor military, police, fire, and emergency-medical-services
personnel who deliver that “exemplary, unique, and heroic
service” to improve the quality of life in cities and towns
The nominations were submitted by friends, colleagues, and loved
ones over the last ten months and narrowed down to twelve finalists.
An advisory committee—made up of military, police, fire, and
EMS-association representatives, uniformed-services advocates, and
former public officials—reviewed the nominations and selected
the four grand-prize winners.
Brinkerhoff will choose between an all-new 2006 Jeep Commander
and a Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo. Owen, and all those who nominated
one of the four grand-prize winners, will receive $500 toward new
"There is a natural affinity between those who serve others
and the Jeep brand. Both have a long record of accomplishment in
times of need," said Jeff Bell, vice president of Jeep. "It
is an honor for us to recognize Bud Brinkerhoff and all the Jeep
Heroes for being amazing, dedicated, and authentic American Heroes.”
On November 9, the four grand-prize winners were honored in metro
Detroit at a private dinner with Jeep executives and winners were
presented with Jeep catalogs to select their new vehicles.
Brinkerhoff, a retired hotelier, told the Signpost, “I don’t
really think of myself as a hero, but I accepted the award in recognition
of the thousands of men and women nationwide who give up their time
and effort to make our country a better place to live.”
For information on all of the Jeep Heroes finalists
and grand-prize winners, visit www.Jeep.com/Heroes.
Sandoval County fire marshal Clark “Sparkie”
Fire marshall Sparkie Speakman, nearing
retirement, reflects on fifty-year career
More than fifty years after he began fighting fires, Sandoval County
fire marshal Clark “Sparkie” Speakman is returning to
his roots as a volunteer.
“This last June I turned seventy-four and said it's time
to go,” Speakman said. “I will still be doing something
in the fire service.”
At a minimum, that means continued work with an East Mountain
organization preaching the need for fire safety and planning in
the increasingly urban woodlands. And he says he won't be a stranger
Speakman, a New Mexico native, first volunteered with the American
Red Cross, before giving his time to the Bernalillo County Fire
Department. He joined District 5, then based in a store near the
Sandia Peak Tramway, where he would serve as chief for fourteen
Before coming to Sandoval County as emergency-services coordinator
in 1992, Speakman’s paid work included Navy combat during
the Korean War, instructing at the state Emergency Medical Services
Academy, and handling communications at BCFD. At the same time,
the volunteering continued with Search and Rescue and as head of
a rescue-communications group.
During his tenure here, Speakman helped the county grow to eleven
fire districts while building six new fire stations. And he joined
in launching the Sandoval County Fire Department, a full-time paid
service in operation since July of this year.
He also helped to revive the Zia Pueblo Volunteer Fire and Rescue
Department in 1997.
“He's been there for everybody when he's needed,”
said Zia fire chief Benjamin Salas. “He was there every step
of the way when we needed advice and help.”
The Zia department, once down to two volunteers, is now fifteen
strong with firefighting, rescue, and wildland apparatus, Salas
“It's kind of neat leaning back and seeing where we've gone
in the last thirteen years,” Speakman said. “The county's
There is a downside, though, as lives get busier and more rural
residents commute to jobs in the city.
“Volunteers are getting harder to find every day,” Speakman
said. “The younger generation has to make a living and doesn't
have much volunteer time.
“Most of our volunteers are middle-aged men and women, forty-five
As part of his job, Speakman handled safety inspections for buildings
and new construction without benefit of a formal fire code. By the
time he retires at the end of the month, the International Fire
Code will be nearing consideration for adoption as the county standard,
“The way we're growing, I think we need one,” he added.
Oh, and about that nickname. Forget Sparky the Fire Dog, the cartoon
Dalmatian fire-safety spokes-dog who arrived on the scene years
after Speakman fought his first fire.
“I was two years old when my Dad gave me the name Sparkie,”
he said. “I don't know why he did.”