My Story

My Story: Derrick C. Denessen

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After 21 years in the U.S. Navy, I retired and was looking for a job in the civilian world. I had no idea how to land a government position, nor did I have the desire. A friend of mine hired me to work for him on a base in the supply area and, eventually, as the supply clerk in the hazardous materials minimization location. Taking this job was a great idea, and one I believe paid off.

After many calls to another worker with concerns regarding storage, compatibility and shelf life, this guy showed up at the trailer and asked for the person who had kept calling him for advice. I spoke up, wondering what he wanted and who he was. He explained that he was the region safety officer and wanted to offer me a government position in the safety office.

After three phone calls from the safety officer, he finally showed up at my workstation, asked my supervisor if he could borrow me for a while, took me to the human resources office and had me fill out a lengthy application. Turns out that he was true to his word, because two weeks later he and one other person showed up at the trailer I was working out of and explained to me that I would start working for them in two weeks.

So there I was, a supply technician working in the safety office. My job was to set up separate hazardous materials centers at each squadron on base. So that’s what I did. Hopping right into the job, I procured fire protective spaces, computers, bar code readers and printers, and a database was created using my Excel skills.

Now what? I no longer had that task to complete – where would I go from there? Actually, not far, as I was hired as a safety technician in the office I was already in. This started a whole new world for me, and I began my trek into the safety field by attending every class and school I could find to learn about the world of safety.

As a safety technician, I was not allowed to do all the cool stuff that the safety specialists were doing, but I could sure learn a lot. This lasted almost two years, until the Navy removed the “safety tech” position. I was instantly promoted to safety specialist.

While working for the “Region” – an upper echelon of the Navy – I began looking for and found an open position at a lower level. These are the “working people.” So began my new life as a safety manager. This means I was in the field where things happen, safety happens and working people happen. I can now make a difference and ensure that folks go home after work in one piece to their loved ones.

This also means that I have a lot of duties to perform, such as database management, safety programs management, stressors and assigned duties oversight. I conduct training and attend training. We all work together toward one common goal: the safety of our personnel. I am the senior safety specialist/manager, and am very proud to be a part of such a fantastic organization and still serving my country.


Derrick C. Denessen
Site Safety Manager
San Diego

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