Coast Guard, state honor local civilian

Posted: Sunday, November 04, 2001

Wednesday was a big day for fire training specialist Gaylen Brevik.

Not only did he retire. He also was awarded a Certificate of Merit at a U.S. Coast Guard ceremony and had a Juneau street named after him.

At the Coast Guard ceremony, Rear Adm. Tom Barrett presented Brevik with a Public Service Commendation for his "outstanding efforts" in marine firefighting at the state Hagevig Fire Service Training Center from January 1990 to October 2001.

Brevik taught 47 team firefighting courses and 20 basic and advanced firefighting courses to Coast Guard personnel, the citation said. He also instructed advanced and basic shipboard firefighting to the crew members of cruise ship lines and Alaska state ferries.

"Through his dedication (he) has made the waters of Alaska a safer place," the citation said.

Chief Petty Officer Harvey Hoffman said, "As technology and firefighting tactics changed, Mr. Brevik continued to rewrite and update courses so Alaska mariners would continue to have the most current information.

"He has been working with the Marine Safety Office here for five years as a fire safety responder aiding the 'Away Team,' " Hoffman said. That team was instrumental in investigating fires aboard the cruise ships Universe Explorer and Neiuw Amsterdam and the state ferry Columbia in recent years, he said.

Brevik, 50, has lived in Juneau since 1975 and has been in the fire service since 1977.

"I joined as a volunteer and then was a city firefighter at Glacier Station for 13 years," Brevik said. "In 1980, I got on the paid staff, and the rest is history."

In 1990, he transferred to the state Department of Public Safety's fire service training division.

"I have traveled all over the world working on fire training and helped write a couple of textbooks," such as "Marine Fire Fighting," which is used throughout the U.S., Brevik said.

"Last year more than 2,000 students went through my classes in Southeast. I also do contract fire training with instructors from fire departments all over the state," he said.

Brevik grew up in Missoula, Mont., and came north "for adventure in Alaska," he said.

Typically, people who have streets named after them are no longer around to appreciate the honor. But on Wednesday, the state of Alaska Fire Service Training office and the Training Division of Capital City Fire and Rescue designated the main entrance avenue at the Hagevig fire training center as Brevik Way.

Operating as Castle Rock Charters, Brevik has been a part-time fishing boat captain for the past five years. He will now become a full-time charter captain during the summer, and travel Outside as a "snow bird" in the winter with his wife, Dotty.

"We want to go into Arizona, New Mexico and California and explore," he said.

Ann Chandonnet can be reached at

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