The Ramstein Fire Department recently received the Air Force Fire Department of the Year Award.
Members of the Ramstein Fire Department proved their strong work ethic accomplishing daily tasks puts them above the competition.
“There were several areas where the Ramstein Fire Department stood out,” said Master Sgt. Mark Belton, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief. “The biggest item we accomplished was being named an accredited agency by the Center for Public Safety Excellence. We were not only one of eight fire departments in the Air Force to achieve this award, (but) we were also the largest fire department in the Air Force to do so.”
As one of the biggest firehouses in the Air Force, members of the department play a vital role in the large mission Ramstein Airmen carry out.
“We have such a large mission here that we get to be involved in a lot of different areas,” Belton said. “We cover a few primary areas, including Ramstein, Landstuhl, Landstuhl helo pad, Vogelweh (and) Rhine Ordnance Barracks, and we have mutual aid agreements with the Army installations and over nine local communities off base.”
The approximately 200 members of the fire department haven’t let their abundance of daily tasks get in the way of helping others learn. Sharing their knowledge and passion for their job opens doors to building bonds with others outside of the fire department.
“We currently run the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa regional aircraft live fire trainer, where we have trained more than 525 joint services firefighters, as well as Air Force active duty, Guard and Reserve firefighters for Silver Flag deployment training,” Belton said. “We work closely with the local communities in responding to mutual aid calls off base and provide excellent customer service to more than 57,000 people in the Kaiserslautern Military Community. We also focused on life and safety issues and initiatives to improve our effectiveness and efficiency, as well as in our day-to-day operations — all this while immersing ourselves in the community with station tours and outreach programs throughout the KMC.”
While covering such a large community, members of the department work closely with local nationals. Their capacity to work with German civilian firefighters ensures their ability to protect members of the KMC.
“It’s interesting working with the military and civilians, because everyone is really knowledgeable about their specific job,” said Senior Airman Stephen Cingel, 86th CES driver operator. “When you go to the different stations, a person at that station will be able to show you exactly what to do.”
Having a variety of different roles and responsibilities in one department adds to the complexity of the large mission the Airmen undertake. Using their dedication and specialized knowledge of fire protection, the Airmen are able to provide high-quality fire protection.
“How could you not be proud of the members of our fire department?” Belton said. “Each one brings a set of qualities and professionalism every day to work, and receiving this Air Force-level award proves that. These are the guys on the ground doing the work to make this mission successful, and that’s what you need in a fire department — a group that is determined to accomplish their tasks and see the mission through. The joint working relationship with the military and German nationals makes it an outstanding environment to work in.”
For newer Airmen, being a part of such an accomplishment can be exciting.
“We came into work and our chief made an announcement over the intercom that is connected to all the stations saying that we had won the award,” Cingel said. “It’s pretty cool to receive an Air Force-level award while being at my first duty station.”
From the first-term Airman to the seasoned veteran, members of the Ramstein Fire Department are burning through their competition with hard work and dedication.