He's been a lightning rod from within the ranks, but Tuesday night, Topeka Fire Chief Howard Giles received a standing ovation for his leadership.
Giles was presented the award for his selection as the Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs "Fire Chief of the Year." The award was announced at a conference Saturday.
Jeff Hudson, City of Shawnee Mission Fire Chief and President of the Kansas State Association of Fire Chiefs, gave Tuesday's public presentation to Giles.
“This award is for those who show strength in leadership and embodies the values of the fire service,” Hudson said. “Those values include a commitment to fire fighter safety and training, being responsible to the community, and being fiscally responsible to the organization.”
Giles says he was surprised to receive the honor. He says there are a lot of good fire personnel and to have someone think highly enough of him to submit a nomination "is very touching."
In comments to the audience in the council chambers, Giles said he is proud to be Topeka's fire chief and called Topeka "home." He said he remains committed to making the tough decisions, even knowing that not everyone will be happy about them.
Topeka's firefighters union has criticized Giles' leadership. They declined comment on the award.