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Fire chief persepctive- Proud to be a civil engineer

  • Published
  • By Chief Master Sgt. Kevin W. Riehle
  • 6th Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services
I proudly wear the Civil Engineer badge! Not only does it look cool, but there is a "real" purpose (no pun) for a firefighter's "engineer" status. From time to time, the question is asked, "Why are firefighters in CE?" The answer is simple. Like all engineers, we are inherently "problem solvers" and our success, or ability to solve problems rests heavily on other traditional engineers, or craftsmen in the squadron.

Successful fire prevention and protection uses a three-pronged approach to ensure the safety of our community. It starts with facility design, engineering and construction. If things are done properly up front, meaning, we can construct and grow safe facilities and processes in their infancy (before occupancy); we dramatically decrease the potential for fire loss. Our fire inspectors regularly partner with CES Programs Flight engineers to review construction plans for safety features--a benefit for the eventual occupants and us, responders.

Our second line of defense is through community education, training and inspection. Our Fire Prevention section does an awesome job of regular inspection and training. In fact, the section has been selected as the "Best in Air Mobility Command" twice in the last four years and more impressively, "Best in the Air Force" in 2009. However, the actual "fixes" following their detailed fire inspections are taken care of by skilled craftsmen in CE who work their magic each and every day to keep us safe.

Finally, when unforeseen incidents occur, and the first two lines of defense are defeated, we fall back on our actual firefighting skills and let's face-it, we're good...but only as good as our water source in most cases. How effective would firefighters be if the water distribution system was unserviceable? I'll give you one guess who maintains this critical piece of infrastructure for the base...that's right, CE.

It truly takes "problems solvers", aka engineers from different "walks of life" to make us all look good. There's not enough character space allotted to thank all the individual shops and personnel within CE that we feed off for mission success, but I can assure you, it happens every day without question. To date, we've enjoyed "zero fire loss" since the beginning of the year, and most recently, our department received national accreditation through the Center for Public Safety Excellence (CSPE)--only one of seven in the Air Force to achieve this status--both because of outstanding civil engineer teamwork.

Thank you Engineers...I'm proud to wear the badge and I hope we reflect well on you!