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Fire and Emergency Services here to serve, protect

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Why do we have a fire department? I receive this question often, and many folks are amazed that we have an operational fire department on the base.

First, our goal is like many first responders; "Serve and Protect." Second, a community as complex and varied and critical to national defense has numerous challenges that cannot be easily served without a dedicated team of specialists like the Tinker Fire and Emergency Services Division has on board. In addition, the Installation Emergency Management Division is a partner to the Fire and Emergency Services Team, providing a synergistic approach to preventing and preparing for what we call the "Bad Things."

A few years back, the Air Force Civil Engineering Center Agency changed the name of fire protection services for the Air Force to Fire Emergency Services. This essentially changed the name of our fire department to Tinker AFB Fire and Emergency Services.

The rationale behind this name change was a result of the many functional aspects each FES unit throughout the Air Force was committed to. Tinker Fire and Emergency Services Division is a classic example of this rationale and responds to a multitude of responses each year, such as emergency medical, fire suppression, hazardous materials, technical rescue and aircraft emergencies. This vast array of responsibilities which our division has adopted throughout many years has changed our organization. These added responsibilities have changed administrative policies/procedures, training and budgetary requirements.

Risk management principles are the key ingredient in determining safe operations while maximizing our strained work force. We are also a proud member of the 72nd Civil Engineering family and remain a division within the CE organization. Our fire inspectors work closely with the civil engineers conducting construction design reviews, fire safety inspections and life safety codes initiatives. It is through this collaborative effort that we are able to maintain such a high degree of fire safety throughout several hundred buildings located on Tinker.

Statistically speaking the Tinker Fire Emergency Services Division responded to the following emergencies in 2012:
· 450 medical responses
· 68 aircraft emergencies
· 27 mutual aid requests
· 346 structural emergencies
· 12 hazardous materials
· 27 rescue emergencies
· Overall total: 930 emergency responses

More than 900 emergencies on a base seems large but consider that we saw a dramatic reduction in calls this year. Key to the reduction of overall responses was the impact of the False Alarm Reduction Program which further reduced false alarms by 24 percent. Currently, Tinker stands at a 50 percent reduction from the 2006 baseline established by Headquarters Air Force for reduction in false alarms, meeting the requirement established by the Air Force fire chief. This is because our team of contractors in Tinker Support Services partners with our government team in reducing these calls.

Having fewer non-emergency events (false calls) enables us to be readily available to respond quickly when a serious event occurs. Our primary concern during emergencies is to meet established response times (seven minutes or less to 90 percent of emergencies, three minutes on the flightline)to provide critical life-saving care. We are proud to announce TFES made significant improvement in response times for 2012. We met DOD and USAF standards for initial response (90 percent) to rescue events and exceeded the standard for all others, meeting our benchmark (95 percent) for Aircraft and Emergency Medical Service events.

The installation's fire loss record remains superior! The net loss to the Department of Defense for 2012 was $2,500 owing to a smoking shed fire that caused no injuries. This represents a 23 percent reduction from the previous year of 21 fires. As a result, our fire prevention staff remains committed to a transition plan for eliminating wooden smoking structures and replacement with noncombustible smoking structures.

I have been asked on several occasions if our organizational name change reflects any changes in our service. The answer to this question is very simple -- no. The name or title of our organization will not change the level of commitment to our community. Our division remains focused on providing a high quality and effective emergency response to our military community and surrounding areas.