RRAD Fire Dept. wins DoD award
September 28, 2011
The Directorate for Emergency Services' Fire and Emergency Division recently received the 2010 Department of Defense Fire Prevention Program of the Year. Fire Chief Andrew Pagley accepted the award on behalf of the depot during a conference held Aug. 22-26 in Atlanta, Ga.
This annual award recognizes the Army Materiel Command's best fire prevention program based on outstanding achievements and accomplishments in direct support of the depot's mission.
"The program is aimed from the smallest kid to the biggest kid," said Pagley. It's a shame that we have a loss of life before we make a change in what we are doing. Our program is set up to educate everyone before bad things happen."
Three key elements in the Army's fire prevention program are: (1) fire prevention inspections, code compliance, enforcement & fire protection engineering; (2) community and public education programs and (3) innovativeness.
RRAD's fire and emergency service went above and beyond all three elements in 2010 with the community and public education program section being the most visible part.
The department reached out to more than 2,500 students with educational presentations and packets filled with coloring books, pencils, reading material, stickers and even a small plastic firefighter hat.
"All the schools in the communities invite us to come or come to our location here," Pagley said. "We take everything we can to get their attention."
The younger kids are the ones who listen and want to interact more, according to Pagley.
"The children that listen to us the most are Kindergarten thru 4th grade," he said. "We hear back from their parents after they have told them that their family must do a fire drill once a month or change the batteries in the smoke detector. That's the kind of thing we want the kids to do. We want them to take this information home because parents listen to their children."
During the course of the school year, schools also bring students to the fire department located on depot.
"We love to have them come to the fire house," said Pagley. "We give tours of where we sleep, where we eat and show them what a day in the life of firefighter looks like. It's always a great time."
Pagley explained that they also take them thru the administrative areas including his office which is full of antique firefighter equipment.
"My guys and gals always jokingly tell the kids this is Chief's office so don't touch anything," said Pagley, as he chuckled. "I don't care what they touch; I just love having all them come see us."
During each presentation made to the students, the men and women of the fire department also give in depth instructions on what to do if the child is ever caught in a fire.
"We teach the kids that hiding in closets and under beds is the worst thing you can do if a fire breaks out in your house," said Pagley. "We even go as far as putting a firefighter in full uniform so they know what he or she looks like if they are coming toward one of them. In a smoked filled environment that's a monster to a little kid, but we tell them this is someone's Daddy inside the suit and we let them know not to be afraid. Once we finish the presentation, a lot of the kids rush up to hug the firefighter in the suit."
Along with education of the local schools, the department is also ramping up fire prevention awareness around the depot. In conjunction with Fire Prevention Week (Oct. 9-15), the firefighters built several Sparky the Fire Dog signs and placed them next to marquees in various locations.
"This year you will see more fire prevention campaigns than ever at RRAD," said Pagley. "We are in an extreme fire condition and as firefighters it is our job to get the word out to everyone."
With the recent outbreak of wildfires in the area, the department also volunteered to help fight the Bear Creek fire in Avinger, Tex. Sept. 7-15.
"It was not only something that the department wanted to do but we needed to do it," said Pagley. "One thing about being a firefighter is that we are like a brotherhood. We help not only the community but each other."
The department was also nominated for 2010 DoD Fire Department of the Year (small department) and Civilian Firefighter of the Year with Michael Miller as the nominee.. Pagley was nominated for Civilian Officer of the Year.
"I enjoy the challenge and I enjoy learning new things," Pagley said. "Our plan is to continue to educate the little ones, the elderly and everyone in between those two."