JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. –
Joint Base Charleston Fire and Emergency Services personnel were chosen by Air Mobility Command (AMC) as the Department of Defense (DoD) Fire Department of the Year, Large Department for 2021.
The annual award recognizes those who exemplify the highest degree of excellence in base mission support and fire protection management.
“Joint Base Charleston has a huge and very diverse mission; we support approximately 67 mission partners with diverse mission sets, to include the Airlift Wing’s C-17 mission, the Charleston International Airport, the Navy’s nuclear training mission, just to name a few,” said Col. Callistus Elbourne, 628th Mission Support Group Commander.
Some achievements highlighted were the rapid response times the Airmen achieved during emergency situations.
“We had a C-17 fire this year that crews were on scene in less than 3 minutes,” said Chief Master Sgt. Walter Shutler, 628th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief. “The DoD standard is 5 minutes. To get out of the station and be on scene that fast is unheard of. We saved the 304 million dollar aircraft. We also had a base housing duplex fire where the firefighters arrived on scene in 4 minutes and contained the fire and its damage to only the kitchen. The DoD standard is 7 minutes.”
Additionally, the CES personnel received their 12th consecutive year with the Commission on Fire Accreditation International.
“We are one of very few departments across the United States to hold the certification,” said Shutler. “The commission states that only 12% of the US population is protected by an accredited fire department. Meaning our customers are receiving the best service possible.”
Fire departments are broken into categories (small, medium and large) based on the number of firefighters per department.
The 628th CES personnel competed against three other fire departments in the “large” category in AMC, and are now competing against all nine Major Commands’ selectees.
“The award gives the firefighters a sense of accomplishment,” said Shutler. “It’s like an extra paycheck for all of the late night calls, and stress of dealing with the bad calls.”
Shutler said they are already working toward new initiatives this year including new communications technology not currently familiar to the DoD, the development of their personnel and additional training opportunities outside of the normal Air Force scope.
“I can’t begin to explain how proud I am to be amongst such world class professionals,” said Shutler. “I constantly brag on all of them. The men and woman of the department give 100% every day. This community is lucky to have such a team at their service.”