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Wauwatosa has a decorated fire chief.

The Commission on Fire Accreditation International presented Wauwatosa Fire Chief Rob Ugaste with the Ray Picard Award March 21 at the annual Center for Public Safety Excellence Conference in Anaheim, California.

The international award recognizes individual superior leadership and outstanding contribution to the fire service accreditation process. It's named after its first recipient and one of the founding fathers of fire and emergency service accreditation, Chief Ray Picard, who retired as fire chief of Huntington Beach, California.

“It’s very humbling to have been nominated for this award by my peers," Ugaste said. "Mayor (Kathy) Ehley and (City) Administrator (Jim) Archambo have also both been extremely supportive of my efforts and that really makes a difference. It’s really nice to work for people who believe in you and who want you to succeed. As far as I am concerned, this is just another example of the great things that are happening in Wauwatosa.”

A release from the Wauwatosa Fire Department said that the Picard Award is one of the two highest honors the commission bestows each year.

"Chief Ugaste was nominated by his peers in Wisconsin and Illinois because of his passion for accreditation and his facilitation of the fire service accreditation effort," the release said.

Ugaste has 38 years of experience in fire service and is currently the president of the Wisconsin State Fire Chiefs, chair of the Wisconsin State Committee on Accreditation, and vice president of the Milwaukee County Fire Chiefs Association. Ugaste's family is heavily involved in fire service, including his father, brother, uncle, cousin, two grandfathers and son-in-law.

“It gives me great honor this morning to present the Ray Picard Award on behalf of the Commission on Fire Accreditation International," Anaheim Fire Chief Randy Bruegman said. "His dedication to the core values of accreditation mirror that of Ray Picard. His selfless and humble demeanor only adds to the many traits that fire leaders across the county have looked up to and respected. It is with great pleasure that I announce this year’s Ray Picard Award recipient – Chief Rob Ugaste.”

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