It’s known that the Air Force operates in settings unlike any other, and therefore it requires fire protection specialists unlike any other. At Edwards, fire protection specialists here have to endure, battle and manage a range of potentially destructive and hazardous fires.
The work they do does not go unnoticed and that was made apparent when they were recently recognized in February for being awarded with the 2013 AFMC Fire and Emergency Services Award as the best Large Fire Department in Air Force Materiel Command.
“Our Edwards firefighters typically come to duty for a 72-hour tour, so for our team to be recognized like this is really an honor. Every base in the command competes annually in the small, medium and large department category, so there’s a large pool of skilled participants and you don’t know where you place until it’s announced,” said Klaus Koepp, 412th Civil Engineering Directorate deputy†fire chief.
According to Koepp, the base has five geographically-located fire stations and a command center on main base.
“Each fire station has a structural capability much like city fire departments. Three of our stations support flight activities with specialized crash and rescue equipment and one station supports our main hazardous material response team,” added Koepp.
“Another fire station maintains our Urban Search and Rescue or USAR trailer stocked with heavy rescue equipment.”
During 2013, Koepp mentioned the fire department assisted surrounding county fire departments with mutual aid support along with numerous vehicle accidents on local highways where team intervention and assistance were critical in improving the victim’s chances of survival.
“This year we encountered a lot of challenges, to include a confined space rescue operation from a rail car in Mojave where our Hazmat team provided air monitoring and technical assistance during the successful rescue,” said Koepp. “We also provided a significant amount of support to flight test programs for Air Force, contractor and private companies testing aircraft here at Edwards. 2013 was also a year in which we had no reportable fires.”
From here, the department will now represent AFMC at the Department of Defense level for consideration to win the 2013 DOD Fire and Emergency Services Award, also known as the “Chief Master Sergeant Ralph E. Sanborn” award or commonly referred to as the Sanborn Award, according to Koepp.
The Edwards Fire Department won the very first Sanborn Award presented in 1993.