Fort Bragg’s Fire and Emergency Services Division, Directorate of Emergency Services, has been heating up the awards category lately. In May, F and ES won both the Department of Army Fire Department of the Year for 2016 (large category) and the North Carolina Child Passenger Safety Award.
Department of the Army Fire Department of the Year for 2016
“We have just been very successful because we have a lot of people who put a lot of time into making sure that our education and training are successful, and then, we are always looking at different ways of being able to do things,” said Mark Melvin, fire chief.
The criteria for the Department of the Army fire department of the year included evaluations such as emergency response, public education, and in-house training education, as well as any innovation accomplished throughout the year.
Because the department has received accreditation from the international society, it helps to set the benchmark to secure Army recognition, said Melvin. The international accreditation brings inspectors from all over the world to the installation to provide feedback about standard operating procedures, the condition of trucks and facilities and how the department interacts with agencies outside of the defense lines, explained Melvin, who paints a picture of a busy fire department that oversees eight stations.
“We are still a very busy department. We get a lot of calls. Those 8,300 incidents that we had, those 8,300 incidents require about 21,000 fire truck movements. So, you’re seeing that truck up and down the road quite a few times a day,” Melvin said.
The duties will expand with two new fire stations under construction at the 108th Patriot Point area and at Camp Mackall. The facilities will likely to open in late summer.
N.C. Child Passenger Safety Award
Fort Bragg initiated child seat installations in 2001, said Stephen Fox, battalion chief. The program was officially activated in 2007 as a tie in to the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program.
“We have people at every one of our stations 365 days a year that are capable of installing car seats correctly and also instructing the parents that are there,” said Melvin.
The fire department has also partnered with other organizations including the Armed Services YMCA, Womack Army Medical Center and Corvias to ensure the car seat safety.
For instance, the F and ES provides installations and inspections through WAMC’s Expectant Mother Program. Inspections are done before and after the baby is born to make sure that the car seats are meeting national safety standards, Fox said. Federal standard requires that all passenger vehicles have a latch on the seat and latch bars.
Through the ASYMCA partnership, car seats, which typically cost more than $70, are provided to junior enlisted Soldiers. Through Corvias, Families receive safety briefings.
Melvin said it’s great to be recognized by peers for running a successful program. Not only that, but the fire department gets calls statewide from towns such as Spring Lake and Pinehurst asking for guidance on child safety techniques.
“Me as a fire chief, I’m just really proud of the team. We’ve got 34 members on the team and it was all volunteers,” said Melvin.
“We’ve been all over,” said Fox, who helped facilitate a demonstration in Pinehurst and researched a technique using brackets to secure an oxygen tank and wheel chair on a Fort Bragg school bus.
“That was pretty successful,” Melvin said. “It was a challenge and we figured out a solution and the school safety people were pretty happy.”
Overall, the mission of F and ES remains to provide the utmost quality service to Soldiers, their Families and civilians.
Melvin and his team seem happy to execute that mission.
He said, “It’s very humbling that we are able to do this. We’ve got a very strong team of people that put their heart and soul into this and consider it a privilege to be able to work for a department that protects the Soldiers’ Families while they are away. To me, that’s what so humbling about being able to work at Fort Bragg. These people are standing on the walls and we’re left here at the garrison to make sure that their Families and that their assets are safe.”