Military News

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Fire, emergency services wins Air Force-level award

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin Sutton
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/27/2015 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Team Osan's fire emergency services flight recently won the Air Force Chief Master Sergeant Ralph E. Sanborn Fire Department of the Year award for the Medium Base category.

They will now represent the Air Force in the upcoming Department of Defense Fire & Emergency Services Annual Awards which Program recognizes the accomplishments and honors of Department of Defense fire departments, fire officers and firefighters.

"This award is significant for us because we pride ourselves on being the best and that means being mission-ready all day, every day," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Henderson, 51st Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of plans and programs. "In fire protection it's our passion to protect those who live and defend them as members of Team Osan. Being recognized at the Air Force level is quite an honor as it illustrates the true spirit of what we do as a fire department and as a team."

Henderson, a native of Grand Rapids, Mich., explained the Team Osan fire department is responsible for protecting the more than 10,000 personnel and dependents assigned to the 51st FW, Headquarters 7th Air Force, and other U.S. Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps units.

"Our department has the opportunity to provide expert services to such a wide-range of units," said Henderson. "One unique aspect of our department is the relationship we have with the Korean National Firefighters. It's very important as they are truly the continuity allowing our department to be successful. Like every organization here, the turnover rate of the average one-year tour can make things difficult, however we couldn't ask for more professional Korean Nationals than what we have in our department."

Currently there are 13 Korean National firefighters working alongside Airmen assigned to the 51st CES fire emergency services flight.

"We like to work alongside the military firefighters and get along well with them," said Chong Kyu Han, 51st CES firefighter. "I wish they could stay longer than one year so we can keep the teams together longer."

Short tours are one challenge Team Osan firefighters deal with while operating in settings unlike any other, and therefore require fire protection specialists with training unlike any other.

"Simply put, we train... whether it's an aircraft, vehicle, in-doors or outside, we carry a mindset not just to train until we get it right, but rather until we can't get in wrong," said Henderson. "The Airmen in our department are not told to be simply firefighters; they choose to follow their passion to save life and property."

The fire department provides assistance to the base and local community through an average of 700 emergency responses each year.

"Those you sweat and bleed with become like family in a short period of time," said Henderson.  "I need to know and trust that my brothers and sisters can and will perform, especially when my life depends on how well they trained and are able to execute."

Even the brand-new fire protection specialists assigned here have to train, endure, battle and manage a range of potentially destructive and hazardous fires.

"This is my first assignment and I couldn't be more excited," said Airman 1st Class Harley Love-Hall, 51st CES fire protection apprentice from Sullivan, Mo. "Our department and the Wing's missions are so important to the Korean Peninsula. I'm proud to be a part of defending the freedom of over 51 million people."

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