USAG RP fire department sizzles with five awards

The USAG Rheinland-Pfalz Fire Prevention Office was awarded the 2020 Fire Prevention Program of the Year by IMCOM-E. Courtesy photos

For a second consecutive year, the U.S. Army Garrison Rheinland-Pfalz Fire Department brought home more awards than any of its peers in Installation Management Command-Europe.

The department earned five honors, including Fire Department of the Year, Large Category. The department also came away with awards for Fire Prevention Program of the Year, Civilian Fire Officer of the Year, Daniel Scherer; Fire Service Dispatcher of the Year, Raphael Dufour; and Emergency Services Provider of the Year, Thomas Heinrich.

Raphael Dufour, USAG Rheinland-Pfalz fire dispatcher, was awarded the IMCOM-Europe Fire Service Dispatcher of the Year Award for 2020.

“Our depth of talent is deep. It’s unfortunate we cannot nominate more of our teammates,” said Marshall Fielder, USAG RP Fire Chief. “Their passion for service to the Army and ability to adapt to challenges is very impressive. These awards are ‘wins’ for all of us.”

Heinrich has added to his personal wins, as well as to those of the garrison.

“I’m amazed I won this award a second year,” Heinrich said. “A lot of other people do the same jobs I do, so I’m very happy I won again. But, I’m just doing my job.”

With the pandemic, both Heinrich and Fiedler said the past year has been like no other with first responders having to protect themselves before reaching the patient.

“It’s very different,” Heinrich said. “You have to put on your own protective equipment, even for the simplest calls. You have your N95 masks, a protective suit and other protections, but the patients are very different as well. Normally, you would ask if they’re having trouble breathing or have shortness of breath. Now, the first thing you ask is if they are sick and have they possibly been in contact with someone who has COVID.”

The Emergency Services Provider of the Year said one of the other major changes to EMS duties is behind the scenes. He’s had to order all of the personal COVID protective equipment for first responders. There’s “a lot of overtime,” and he is trying to find medical clothes when there are none to be found.

U.S. Army Garrison Rhineland-Pfalz’s Chief Daniel Scherer, Miesau, Germany Fire Battalion Chief, was named the Civilian Fire Officer of the Year for 2020 by IMCOM-E.

He said one of the greatest challenges the fire department had was trying to find COVID-safe equipment for performing CPR as they found themselves competing with hospitals.

“This last year saw the biggest changes in my 20 years as an emergency services provider,” Heinrich said.

According to Fiedler, being named the Fire Prevention Program of the Year falls in line with the work of the overall garrison Fire Protection and Prevention Service, which is one spoke of the garrison Risk Reduction Program. He said the fire loss rate for the garrison is one of the lowest in the DOD.

The fire chief chalks that success up to a coordinated effort inside a massive garrison footprint from every garrison directorate, especially Public Works and the S6 (Signals, Communication and IT) for keeping garrison fire alarms working, along with the Logistics Readiness Center for keeping the garrison’s fire trucks rolling.

“These awards reflect the pride and professionalism of the men and women in the USAG RP fire service,” Fiedler said. “We’re all motivated to sustain the readiness and resilience of our warfighters and to ensure the safety and security of the people who depend on us.”