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Michael Louis Kuk, PhD., CFO, FIFireE, FABCHS, CHS-V, CNTA, CHSEMR, is the retired Fire Chief for the Joint Readiness Training Center and U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Polk, Louisiana. He has over 55 years of fire service experience, with 50 plus years of chief officer tenure. In 1965 he became a Fire Explorer Scout and began his journey in the fire service. A United States Army Vietnam Veteran, his professional service began at Fort Polk in 1969, going on to serve as the Station Chief for the U. S. Army Firefighters’ USARV Detachment at Long Binh, Vietnam during 1970 and 1971. After his military obligation was completed, he served in his hometown department of Clinton, Iowa as a Tillerman and one of the 1st EMTs. In Louisiana he served as the fire chief for OLIN Chemicals and PPG Industries in Lake Charles, and the first chief of the Ward 1 Fire Protection District of Moss Bluff. He was the first chief in Louisiana to have active duty career and volunteer women firefighters, including officers and EMT’s. His work history also includes serving as the last fire chief at Savanna Army Depot, Illinois, and the prison chief at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. In 1998 he was selected as Army Firefighter of the Year. In 2009 he was the first Inductee into the U.S. Army Fire Chiefs Hall of Fame. The Military Firefighter Heritage Foundation inducted him into the Military Firefighter hall of Fame in 2018. Chief Kuk is the founding member and Chair of the Federal Firefighters Memorial Committee (est. 1994) and the Federal Fire Chaplain. During the combined Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services annual conferences with the International Association of Fire Chiefs, he served as a primary committeeman for the Pentagon, and was the event’s Master Musician. Within the Fort Polk Directorate of Emergency Services, he served as the DES Chaplain, and as the Chair of the CBRNE Working Group. He presently serves as the Senior Fire Chaplain for the Vernon Parish Fire Protection District, and was the District’s founding Chief Fire Chaplain and Director of the Firefighter Honor Guard. He is a charter board member of the Louisiana Fire Chaplains Network, Regional Director, and Flying Squad Commander. In addition, he continues to serve as the musical director and protocol advisor for the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Walk of Honor Foundation, which oversees the annual memorial service and memorial site in Baton Rouge (est. 2004). He also serves on the State Fire Marshal’s Steering Committee, and has been asked to serve as the 1st curator for the proposed State Fire Marshal Firefighter Museum. In December 2012, he received the State Fire Marshal’s Fire Chief of the Year award. Chief Kuk holds the honored title of Fellow for the American Board for Certification in Homeland Security. He is also a Fellow in the esteemed Institution of Fire Engineers of Great Britain, being the only chief fire officer to hold dual fellowships in the United States. The Commission on Professional Credentialing awarded the designation of Chief Fire Officer to him in 2004, and continues to be re-designated ever since his initial acceptance. Chief Kuk has been a published fire service author since 1974, with over 100 peer-reviewed articles, including booklets and manuals. He has conducted extensive research on firefighting history since Roman times. His landmark article about the true story of Saint Florian, the Firefighter’s Patron, appeared in the May 2000 issue of FIREHOUSE magazine. As a result of his extensive travels and research regarding the Holy Florian and his Roman firefighters, Chief Kuk is recognized as the world authority on Roman Firefighters. He also writes about Federal and Department of Defense firefighting subjects, including Homeland Security. Overall his writings have touched historical, technical, and inspirational subjects. His writings have been published in countless fire publications, including many newspapers and other non-fire service magazines and periodicals. He served as a contributing editor for FIRE SERVICE DIGEST for many years, and is a contributing author for FIRE ENGINEERING and FIREHOUSE magazines, and the JOKER STAND JOURNAL. A 2006 Inductee of the 50-60’s Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame with his band of the 1960’s, the “Union Jacks”, he continues to perform as a master musician at firefighter, military, and civil ceremonies and events. He performed all of the inaugural music for the Illinois Firefighter Memorial Dedication Ceremony on May 13, 1999 at Springfield, Illinois, and pleasantly surprised all attendees with a special rendition of “Backdraft” as the opening theme. He performed this motion picture movie score by ear and memory on his synthesizers, since no printed music was available at that time. Every June he returns to his home state of Iowa to perform music for the Iowa Firefighters Association’s Annual Memorial Service, and has been serving in that role since the first ceremony of June 1995. He also serves as their protocol/ceremony and music advisor, and writes historical and inspirational inserts for their annual memorial brochure. In June 2012, he received the IFA’s Outstanding Fire Service Individual Award for his steadfast and long term commitment. A lifetime member of the International Association of Fire Chiefs since 1977, Kuk has led volunteer, combination, industrial, military, and Federal fire departments. His musical talents were a major part of the IAFC’s conference for 17 years. He is recognized as our Nation’s top performing Firefighter-Musician. And his hobby is collecting fire memorabilia, especially items pertaining to Saint Florian, and corresponding with over 50 fire service pen-pals internationally. His custom built home, with a full fire sprinkler system, is a true personal fire museum. It is full of treasures gathered throughout his journey in the international fire service. He hosts many traveling fire service personnel during any given time, who enjoy experiencing a 1st hand look at this memorabilia. An extensive library fills the 20 foot high “hose tower” portion of the home, and it includes a library ladder! His quest for international fire service education and historical note found him serving as the Director of Brigade International, thereby leading delegations to countries such as South Africa, Germany, and Austria during the 90’s. He recently served as a delegate for FireNet when that group visited Poland in 2016. A long-time member of the Fire Buffs of Illinois, a founding member of the Fire Museum of Greater Chicago, and a member of SPAAMFAA, he attends numerous musters and related activities as his time and travel limitations permit. His unique chaplaincy was part of the twilight ceremony when the Wildland Firefighters Memorial site was dedicated in May 2000 at the Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho. He used special holy water from the ground-spring of the Saint Florian grotto in Linz, Austria to bless the three wildland firefighter statues and overall grounds. Of special note, he worked Ground Zero in November 2001, supporting the overall Chaplaincy efforts there with FDNY Chaplain Monsignor John Delendick. He is a disabled Vietnam Veteran as a result of his active duty time in the U.S. Army as a Combat Firefighter in that theatre of war.