Niagara Firefighters hose the competition

Members of the 914th Airlift Wing Fire Flight pose with the banner for the Air Force Reserve Command Fire Emergency Services of the Year on June 5, 2016 at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The flight beat 26 other units to attain the honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Mekkri/released)

Members of the 914th Airlift Wing Fire Flight pose with the banner for the Air Force Reserve Command Fire Emergency Services of the Year on June 5, 2016 at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. The flight beat 26 other units to attain the honor. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Richard Mekkri/released)

NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION --  

When the 2015 U.S. Air Force Civil Engineer Annual Awards were announced in March, the firefighting teams from Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station captured three awards, more than any other across the command in the Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services Award category. 

The Awards received are Air Force Reserve Command Emergency Services Flight of the Year, Department of Defense Military Firefighter Award, and the Department of Defense Civilian Firefighter Award. These awards recognize the most outstanding Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force Fire Flight and military and civilian firefighters across the reserve command for achieving the highest degrees of excellence in mission support and fire protection management.

“I’m very proud to serve beside these guys,” said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher K. McArdle, 914th Airlift Wing Prime Beef Fire Emergency Services Flight fire chief. “I get the greatest satisfaction out of getting to see these guys grow up and actually be able to use their skills.”

McArdle attributes the success of his team to the diverse skill set that each possesses. He refined his team by bringing in members from a multitude of AFSCs around the base.

“We’ve got former FSS members, former AES members, former ASTS, CE with heavy equipment experience, former army folks that bring a whole different skill set to the table, security forces,” said McArdle. “Basically we have SMEs in every facet which gives us a better ability to mitigate emergencies both CONUS and in the expeditionary setting.”

Tech. Sgt. Robert Roy and Tech. Sgt. Aaron Brindamour are two of those firefighters. Brindamour received the 2015 Department of Defense Civilian Firefighter Award and Roy, who is currently deployed to an overseas location received the Department of Defense Military Firefighter Award.

“It was a surprise,” said Brindamour, who is a Lieutenant for the civilian side of the firehouse and also a lead firefighter and crew chief on the military side. “I didn’t know that I’d been put in for the award so when I found out about it I was shocked.”

Brindamour won the award, in part, due to his creation and implementation of a course that teaches fire chiefs and incident commanders how to keep fire fighters alive during a “mayday” call. A mayday call is when a firefighter gets into trouble during a fire, said Brindamour. He also developed a fire ground survival and rapid intervention team program here on base for a group that assembles at every fire. Their sole purposes is to rescue firefighters if they are ever in danger.

 “We have quite a department here,” said Brindamour.  “It’s apparent when we go TDY to other places. Especially when we go to different training conferences to hear how far ahead our flight is compared to a lot of the other flights around the country.”

Roy, who is currently deployed to the Middle East was nominated for, and won, firefighter of the year. This was in part due to his volunteerism for a backfill position at Scott Air Force Base in 2015. He also rebuilt part of the training program here on base, according to McArdle.

“He’s a fireball when it comes to what he produces for our team,” said McArdle.

McArdle added that one of his biggest fears is that leadership doesn’t understand how great the members of his team really.

“These guys get recognized often,” said McArdle. My firefighters are getting promoted at levels that have never seen. We’re writing and winning awards at rates that they have never seen and that just continues to grow their motivation to continuously improve upon the wing.”

McArdle, Roy, and Brindamour will continue showcasing what it is that their team is capable of. This is the second time in three years that the Niagara Falls Fire Flight has won flight of the year.