The Sandoval Signpost

An Independent Monthly Newsmagazine Serving the Community since 1989


Bud Brinkerhoff in the classroom
Bud Brinkerhoff in the classroom.

Bud Brinkerhoff with his jeep
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 across America.

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 Jeep merchandise.

"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

Sandoval County fire marshal Clark “Sparkie” Speakman

Sandoval County fire marshal Clark “Sparkie” Speakman

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 in Bernalillo.

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 years.

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 added.

“It's kind of neat leaning back and seeing where we've gone in the last thirteen years,” Speakman said. “The county's growing up.”

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 and up.”

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, he said.

“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.”



Front Page   Up Front  Animal News   Around Town  Business  Community Bits   Classifieds   Calendar  Community Profile  Community Center   Eco-Beat   Featured Artist  Fire and Rescue  The Gauntlet    Community Links  Holiday Night Skies   Man on the Street   Movie Reviews  My Wife and Times  Sandoval Arts   Schoolbag  Sheriff's Corner  Time Off   Back Issues   Ad Rates   Contact Us