Department will go on to compete at CNIC level
“Protecting those who defend our country” is not just a slogan for military fire departments, it is a badge of honor that drives them to be the best of an elite corps. So when a fire department is named the best within a 15 command region, it is an honor that pays tribute to a great deal of hard work, dedication and commitment.
Such is the recognition obtained by Fire and Emergency Services Gulf Coast (F&ESGC) when they were recently announced as the Commander Navy Region Southeast (CNRSE) nominee to compete for the Navy-wide Navy Large Fire Department of the Year for 2012. For Fire Chief Frank Barrow, it is a stirring opportunity to see his guys recognized for their efforts.
“I am excited, really excited!” he said. “It is awesome to be recognized by your peers across the region, and it’s a tribute to the guys and their hard work. The selection means a lot to the organization as a whole.”
F&ESGC is a disparate fire department that oversees a 4,500 nautical mile operational area spread out among 18 locations. Based primarily out of Naval Air Station Pensacola and Naval Air Station Whiting Field, the station also has primary jurisdiction over all the Navy Outlying Landing Fields belonging to the two bases. With more than 560,000 flight operations across 18 airfields, it is a challenging duty that the team handles effectively.
More than 6,800 calls for services were made throughout 2012, and all were completely and competently mitigated to a successful outcome. While many were standby calls in case of an emergency, the team responded to a large number of emergency calls as well, including three life-saving actions. In addition to the on-base requirements of the department, the station also has mutual aid agreements with the surrounding areas and assisted in 185 incidents to help community fire departments.
Reacting to an emergency is only one facet of the team’s mission. F&ESGC also works diligently to prevent emergencies from happening. The unit stressed fire prevention programs and reached more than 44,000 people at work, schools, home, shopping centers, and daycare locations to help train people on prevention techniques. With an eye toward safety, the team inspected more than 800 facilities and reviewed more than 250 self help projects before they were initiated. The fire stations also conducted greater than 550 fire and exit drills at schools to help maintain the preparedness of the children.
The F&ESGC team has to be flexible to react to the wide variety of problems they may encounter in the field. Whether it is a hazardous material spill, structure fire, home injury, car accident, or aircraft mishap across a multitude of potential locations, the station members maintain the capability to meet the crisis. That is the trait of his firefighters that Barrow prizes the most.
“That is the key for meeting our missions…Everyone works hard to ensure we are meeting our customer’s needs across multiple locations. The people make it happen, and without a great team we wouldn’t be successful,” he stated.
With a complement of 123 military and 129 civilian firefighters working for two different commanding officers across so many facilities, it would seem chaotic. But Barrow stresses that while multi-faceted, F&ESGC is all one team.
“As an organization, we come together to meet the mission. We have a lot of area to protect, and we were effective and efficient in covering our area,” he said. “We have outstanding people. The key to our future is how the military and civilian firefighters work together, and every day we become stronger.”
As the unit takes the next step at the Commander Naval Installations Command (CNIC) level, they will continue to be graded on their customer service, previous awards, innovativeness, health and safety initiatives and quality of life initiatives. It is a daunting task with a lot of equally notable fire stations in the mix, but F&ESGC has already impressed one of their main customers – NAS Whiting Field Commanding Officer Capt. Matthew Coughlin.
“When we come to work, we know we are safe because of the great job this team does every day,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier for them and I know CNIC is as appreciative of their accomplishments as I am.”
Posted in Military