Montana Governor Recognizes Volunteer Fire Department

Gov. Gianforte Recognizes Central Montana Volunteer Fire Department With Spirit of Montana Award

STOCKETT, MT (STL.News) Governor Greg Gianforte last night presented his Spirit of Montana award to the volunteers of the Sand Coulee Fire Department for their swift, heroic response to the Gibson Flats Fire last December.  The governor joined the volunteer firefighters for dinner at American Bar in Stockett.

“One of my greatest honors as governor is recognizing Montanans who embody what it means to be a good neighbor and serve one another.  The Sand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department is an outstanding example,” Gov. Gianforte said.  “As the first responders on the ground at the Gibson Flats Fire, these volunteer firefighters saved property and lives.  I appreciated joining them for a burger last night in Stockett and saying thanks.”

In the morning of December 1, 2021, the Gibson Flats Fire started in the southeast side of Great Falls.  With high winds in the area, the fire quickly grew, threatening homes and families.  Members of the Sand Coulee Fire Department deployed to the scene, developing an incident action plan with other responding personnel to attack the fire effectively and safely.

Speaking to the effectiveness of the volunteer fire department’s response, Cascade County Sheriff Jesse Slaughter added, “Sand Coulee Fire was the first fire department on the scene.  It was their quick response and leadership that set all of the responding agencies up for success.  Their quick and decisive action saved many lives.”

A partner in the response to the Gibson Flats Fire, Great Falls Fire Chief Jeremy Jones added, “This was a great example of a local volunteer fire department enacting mutual aid.  It was because of the department’s quick determination that they were able to get resources where they were needed.  They saved lives and many homes, and we’re grateful.”

Sand Coulee Volunteer Fire Department Chief Levi McCale and Assistant Chief Chris Kindred accepted the Spirit of Montana award on behalf of the department.

“It’s a great honor to receive this award.  The reason we do what we do isn’t about award or recognition, it’s a deep-down sense of community and respect for our neighbors,” Chief McCale and Assistant Chief Kindred said.  “The Montanan spirit is one that is strong and rooted with community in mind, and without the support of every available first responder, whether it be EMS, Fire, or Police, the protection of our community wouldn’t be possible.”

They continued, “In the spirit of Montana, we want to share this honor with all of our emergency services in Cascade County.”

The governor’s Spirit of Montana award recognizes Montanans for their accomplishments, dedication, or service. Gov. Gianforte encourages Montanans to nominate members of their community for the Spirit of Montana award by contacting his office at (406) 444-3111 or submitting their nominee online at

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