Grissom Fire meets stakeholders with improvements in mind

  • Published
  • By Douglas Hays
  • 434th ARW Public Affairs
The best never rest is often used in sporting terms, but also applies to firefighters in the Grissom Fire Department.

Grissom’s fire department was accredited through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International in 2016, becoming just one of 26 Air Force fire departments to achieve that status.

While not wanting to rest on their laurels, Fire Chief John Ireland’s department is focusing on continuous improvement areas.

“We held a town hall-style meeting to gather key stakeholders from our community to discuss how we do everything from routine emergency responses to the most technical rescue situations,” Ireland said. “The goal is to provide better service to them and the community.”

The stakeholders involved in their improvement process are the flying squadrons, security forces, emergency management, services, maintenance.

“In addition to seeing how we are doing with the current services we provide, we want to see what new services we can do to better support their missions,” Ireland said.

During the stakeholder meeting, Jason Cahill and Christian Jacobs, both firefighters that spearheaded the accreditation process, provided an overview of both accreditation and re-accreditation processes.

“The whole goal is to establish a department-wide culture of continuous improvement,” Cahill said.

Only 10 percent of the departments nationwide are accredited.

“Grissom being in the top 10 percent in the nation is something I’m pretty proud of,” Cahill said.

While they’ve garnered the recognition, Grissom Fire is not resting on past accolades.

“We are proud of the department we have, but are we perfect,” Ireland rhetorically asked. “No one will ever be perfect, but that’s what we’re striving for – perfection.”

At any given time there are 16 or 17 people on duty at the fire house.

“We have an incredible amount of training that we do to hone our skills,” Ireland added. “And for every person, and every bit of training we meticulously document that training to ensure we’re not just meeting requirements, but exceeding them.”

“People don’t see the depth of what they do on a daily basis to be ready to dive in and protect us in an emergency,” said Johnny Armes, 434th Air Refueling Wing weapons safety officer and base safety representative.

Stakeholders in attendance of the meeting shared with the department their thoughts and ideas about potential service in the future.

“I was impressed to see how the fire department is leaning forward to meet the needs of their customers,” said Armes. “We talked about some safety items they might incorporate into their training to enhance their skills and they were very receptive to new ideas.”

In the end, the fire department’s mission is to protect lives and assets at the base. The initial accreditation earned in 2016 is proof they far exceed that goal. The current reaccreditation process shows they continually strive to excel.

“Our fire department rocks!” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. “The pride and professionalism they demonstrate – both on and off base, is unparalleled. This base, this community relies so much on them, and they never fail to flawlessly deliver.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Reserve Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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