The Ready, Set, Go! Program Special Recognition Award is reserved to recognize the most influential individuals in the wildland-urban interface arena and their significant contributions to creating behavioral change within the fire service and communities, at local, regional and national levels, through education, training and mitigation through the RSG! Program.
During the 2019 Wildland-Urban Interface Conference, John Cowie of the Barnegat Volunteer Fire Department and New Jersey Forest Fire Service, was recognized for his exceptional efforts.
John’s work with the RSG! Program began in 2010 when Barnegat Volunteer Fire Department was selected to be one of the RSG pilot departments. In true Cowie fashion, John didn’t just pilot, he ran with RSG and worked it into his community at all levels to make sure they had the support they needed to protect themselves from the threat of wildland fire and other hazards, as seen when RSG was used during Superstorm Sandy.
Due to John’s efforts Barnegat was the first municipality in New Jersey to complete their Community Wildfire Protection Plan.
Given the success he had on the local level, John worked on implementing RSG on the state level. He was instrumental in the formation of the New Jersey Fire Safety Council. He also worked with the state to add RSG as one of the Emergency Management & Resiliency actions communities could take to earn points for the Sustainable New Jersey program which provides grants and resources to municipalities throughout the state.
Over the years, John provided valuable input to help grow and improve the Ready, Set, Go nationally including working on a team that toured the state of Texas to deliver our first RSG trainings after their devastating fires in 2011, making a major impact.
In 2014, John’s work with the program was recognized when he was one of the inaugural recipients of the Ready, Set, Go! Program Award for Excellence.
At the time of his passing, John was working with the New Jersey Forest Fire Service to update and complete CWPPs across the state of New Jersey.
John’s work with the RSG! Program is one of the many legacies he will leave behind. He will always be remembered for his dedication and hard work to make his community safer for his colleagues and area residents alike, and of course, his unforgettable, always present smile.
The RSG! Program was honored and humbled to present the award to John’s fiancé Sharon Ragonese along with Columbus Montana Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Rich Cowger who worked with John on delivering the inaugural RSG trainings in Texas during 2011.