NATO Battle Group Poland Leaders Recognize Local Fire Fighters
U.S. Army Lt. Col Andrew Gallo, the commander of enhanced Forward Presence NATO Battle Group Poland (right), awards a certificate of appreciation to Lt. Col. Pawel Pienkosz, local community fire chief (left), for aiding in the recovery of a Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, Pisz, Poland, Feb. 10, 2020. NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence consists of four battalion-sized battle groups deploying on a persistent rotational basis to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to demonstrate the alliance’s determination and ability to act as one in response to any aggression against its members. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

While we ask a lot from our military service members and we thank them for it, sometimes we forget to acknowledge the sacrifices of local emergency responders. U.S. Army Lt. Col. Andrew Gallo, the commander of enhanced Forward Presence NATO Battle Group Poland, and Command Sgt. Maj. Marcus Brister, senior enlisted advisor to NATO BGP, presented certificates of appreciation to fire fighters serving in the local community of Pisz, Poland, on Feb. 10, 2020.

On Jan. 18, 2020, immediately outside the village of Gorzekaly, Poland, a military vehicle assigned to the NATO BGP experienced a mechanical failure that resulted in an engine fire. The crew operating the vehicle pulled over to the side of the road, but were unable to put out the fire themselves. Soldiers acted quickly and called local emergency services.

Firefighters from Pisz were immediately dispatched to the scene. The firefighters extinguished the fire quickly and efficiently, saving the loss of the vehicle. No one was injured on the site and the damage was limited to the engine compartment. The Battle Group quickly replaced the Stryker with a brand new vehicle from Vilseck, Germany.

"On public roads, we have never had to deal with vehicle fires, of course some kind of accidents but never fires," said Lt. Col. Pawel Pienkosz, with the Fire Brigade. "We were just doing our jobs; we will do it for you every time."

"We are extremely grateful for the fire department's help three weeks ago," said Gallo. "We sincerely appreciate the fire chief's professionalism and dedication to duty. The local firefighters are brave, hard-working people who respond quickly when help is needed. We are excited to continue to build relationships like this one with the local community during our deployment to Poland."

Capt. Andrzej Paprota, with the Fire Brigade, shared remarks highlighting his pride in helping Soldiers.

"My grandfather was born in the sates as an immigrant," said Paprota. "He came back to Poland to fight during World War 2 and was killed during the Katyn massacre."

The firefighters also look forward to working alongside NATO BGP in the future.

"The local community values the presence of the American Army very much," said Pienkosz. "Your presence makes the community richer."

While prior community relations between Battle Group-Poland and the town of Pisz, were established, today's community engagement solidified the partnership even more.