A 24 year veteran of the Waukegan Fire Department, Lieutenant Tom Christensen, has been named "Firefighter of the Year" by The American Legion. The honor was bestowed upon Christensen, a lifelong Waukegan resident, at the organization's annual national convention in Indianapolis on Aug. 29.
Lieutenant Christensen was recognized by the Legion, the nation's largest wartime veterans service organization, for his long dedication to public service and his heroism. Christensen currently serves as the Waukegan Fire Department Bomb Team's Coordinator, which provides protection for more than 800,000 residents in two counties. Christensen holds a bachelor's degree in Fire Management and teaches fire safety as an associate instructor at the University of New Mexico. He has also been credentialed by the FBI as a bomb team lead instructor and devotes about 20 non-paid, off-duty hours a month to team training and education.
Christensen is a highly trained Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team member. USAR teams locate, extricate and stabilize persons trapped in confined spaces during fires, structural collapses and other natural and manmade disasters. Christensen employed his training and experience in the lifesaving rescue and resuscitation of a child during an August 2010 house fire. For that action, Christensen and his firefighting crew were awarded a Medal of Valor from the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office.
Besides receiving this latest honor by The American Legion's national leadership, Christensen was formerly named both Firefighter of the Year and Fire Officer of the Year by the Exchange Club of Waukegan.