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John Niemeyer, CNFJ political advisor, wins a raffle prize at the 7th annual CNFJ Regional Fire Department friendship dinner at the Yokosuka Naval Base Officer's Club.
John Niemeyer, CNFJ political advisor, wins a raffle prize at the 7th annual CNFJ Regional Fire Department friendship dinner at the Yokosuka Naval Base Officer's Club. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)
John Niemeyer, CNFJ political advisor, wins a raffle prize at the 7th annual CNFJ Regional Fire Department friendship dinner at the Yokosuka Naval Base Officer's Club.
John Niemeyer, CNFJ political advisor, wins a raffle prize at the 7th annual CNFJ Regional Fire Department friendship dinner at the Yokosuka Naval Base Officer's Club. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)
Daniel Marshall, regional fire chief, welcomes guests at the 7th annual CNFJ Regional Fire Department friendship dinner at the Yokosuka Naval Base Officer's Club.
Daniel Marshall, regional fire chief, welcomes guests at the 7th annual CNFJ Regional Fire Department friendship dinner at the Yokosuka Naval Base Officer's Club. (Courtesy of U.S. Navy)

YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, Japan — The Commander, Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department hosted its Seventh Annual friendship dinner here Thursday evening.

More than 125 Japanese fire and disaster prevention officials, along with those in private industry, were invited to the dinner in an effort by fire department personnel to thank those who have supported them and enhanced their relationship.

The Navy’s regional fire department has mutual aid agreements with several neighboring Japanese cities.

“It gives all my staff a chance to develop the relationship with their counterparts,” said Daniel Marshall, chief of CNFJ’s Regional Fire Department.

Originally, the friendship dinner was held between the CNFJ Regional Fire Department and Yokosuka City fire officials. But seven years ago, they decided to invite other communities as well.

“We started to bring in other cities because we’ve seen the value that we have received with the interaction with the city of Yokosuka,” said Marshall.

However, because many fire chiefs and staff change in April due to the start of a new fiscal year in Japan, the dinner also gives Japanese officials an opportunity to meet each other and network.

“We all know the importance of developing resources and have them available when we need them without delays,” Marshall said in his opening speech. “Tonight is our chance to develop resources, to know who coordinates and controls those resources.”

A good relationship with local cities is important for Navy fire officials because many servicemembers and base workers live off base.

“If there is a fire or disaster off base … they can’t be handled by the U.S. Navy alone. It can’t be handled without all of your support,” said guest speaker John Niemeyer, a CNFJ political adviser, noting that some 3,000 Navy households live off base in Kanto area.

“I think it’s wonderful,” said Shogo Hayashi, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency commissioner, who attended the dinner for the first time. “Fire departments ... are connected with a common goal of people’s safety, which extends beyond national defense. I hope that the friendship with the U.S. military will deepen.”

Photos of drills and exercises the CNFJ Regional Fire Department conducted to interact with local communities were shown during the dinner.

Marshall urged other groups — such as security and medical units — to interact with their counterparts in local communities and on base, “and things would be much better in a disaster.”

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