Master Sgt. Andrew Kehl, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., was recently named the winner of the 2017 Department of Defense Senior Fire Officer Award.
Kehl’s accomplishments set him apart from hundreds of other fire officers throughout the military.
“Each wing will have a representative, then it goes to the major command (MAJCOM) and then the Air Force level,” said Kehl. “Once it goes to the Air Force level then you compete against the Marines, Navy and Army.”
Although Kehl did quite a bit during the year that attributed him to being named senior fire officer of the year, the project he is most proud of is a platform he built, with the help of a team, used by firefighters Air Force wide.
“I had a vision that we create a web-centric platform to conduct all flight business for fire departments,” said Kehl.
With his team, Kehl was able to use readily available SharePoint software to make his vision a reality.
“I don’t think a lot of people were fully aware of its actual capabilities,” said Kehl. “We coded a custom fire department dropdown web part and coded a custom slider and a bunch of the guts. We’ve been delivering it to one or two bases a week across the entire enterprise.”
A limited file size for email along with cloud computing technology lead him to come up with this new way of sharing information while standardizing fire departments around the Air Force.
“It started because our mailboxes had a 60 Mb max and every time someone sent me something with an attachment I would get annoyed by it,” Said Kehl. “That lead me to SharePoint, but, the overall vision was ‘how can we make it so that we are sharing information throughout the entire enterprise.’”
“The idea was that because it’s cloud based we could have a platform that we could share information and it would be the same no matter where we go.”
As the Nellis and Creech deputy fire chief, Kehl ensures that the more than 100 members assigned here are capable of responding to whatever call they might receive.
“The majority of calls we get here are for medical and inflight emergencies,” said Kehl. “Up at Creech we get a lot of motor vehicle accidents because we run a large section of US-95 there.”
To Kehl, the award not only recognizes him for the hard work he’s done, but also highlights what the teams he has worked with on his many projects have done.
“For me, it validates all the hard work my teams put in,” said Kehl. “The award was won in Spangdahlem, and that team there just really built me up.”
“We had over two-hundred people alone involved in the process improvement aspect, which was a big chunk of this award,” he said. “It was also firefighters taking the initiative to get rid of things that are considered waste and be more efficient.”