Fri, 22 Feb 2008|
Dr. Denis Onieal, National Fire Academy superintendent, was awarded the Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award.
[MUSIC] >> A bunch of people made a lot of terrible mistakes and we came and did what we could to get them out of a jam. I'd say, friend if you hadn't screwed up I wouldn't be here. >> Best [UNKNOWN] that all my people. The whole secret of this business is to know your job as intimately and interconnected and you possibly can. >> Very important, you know, the enemy of the Messiah and how the enemy spreads convection conduction radiation. And you gotta know your battlefield. You're gonna do battle on the fireground so you gotta know the battle. Field. >> The premiere position that the workers in this room has put, have put this service in. Is that we are the most popular service. We're the most accepted service, and we're the most trusted service. We have two in and two out. I says because firefighters are worth saving. >> His message was always. [MUSIC] To make a difference. To live life so that you are leaving a mark. This award shows our family, that he truly made a difference. >> We had been in fires a lot. No matter how experienced you are, you gotta have somebody on, on your shoulder telling ya you know, their backing you. Cause you don't know. There are times when you say, God just get me through this, I'll be a good boy, and I'll go to church on Sunday. I'm gonna take care of everything. Get me through this. >> [MUSIC] It's a super thing, and I am very appreciative of this award. I would just like to leave one simple little message today, especially to the younger people. You can make a difference. If my father were here this morning. He would, he would remind us of the cold hard fact that no leader is any greater than the men and women that he is called to lead. >> To be able to work in an occupation which brings tremendous personal satisfaction. And to enjoy the association with the marvelous people we have the privilege to work with. Makes firefighting enviable. To be able to those sentenced to much more mundane warfare. >> Those were our past Lifetime Achievement Awards winners. And I have a rare opportunity this morning. I get to introduce, well to honor, and to say thank you to someone that I call a friend, a brother. An inspiration. I know many of you have also been inspired by Dr. Dennis O'Neil. We can all remember the first time we saw him striding confidently across the grounds of Emmettsburg, so dignified, so composed. As I look out on the audience today, I can see that many of you like me, are starting to dye your hair grey, to kinda look more like the doc, so, make you look smarter. That, but seriously, that Doc O'Neil look, that you unique Doc O'Neil look. Our superintendent, our friend, and our brother. THat's the Doc. Let me recount for you a moment some of the career highlights of fire engineering's 2007 lifetime achievement award winner. Dr. Dennis O'Neil was appointed. In a non-political, nationwide, competitive search, he was appointed in 1995 to be a superintendent of the National Fire Academy. He is the first non-political appointee, and the position was selected after an exhaustive search. It wasn't just a little search, it was exhaustive. In 2006, the NFA trained over 78,000 firefighters. And officers from all over the 50 states, the cadre of more than 500 instructors. He's a lifetime resident of Jersey City, and Dr. O'Neal graduated from Rice High School in Harlem section of New York City in 1996. After that he was drafted into the army in 1967. Dr. O'Neal returned home from overseas with an honorable discharge in 1969. And he began attending the New Jersey City University on the G-I bill. He was among one of the first six graduates to receive a Bachelor of Science in fire, from a fire science department in 1976. He immediately began graduate study in public administration at Fairleigh Dickinson University. He was awarded a masters of public administration in 1978 and began teaching in the Fire Science program. In 1983, he began doctorial studies at the Steinhart School of Education at New York University. NYU conferred a doctorate of education on the doc in 1990. And he taught the masters and doctorial programs in education at NYU for five years. Now before I go any further he really was a fire fighter Terry [UNKNOWN] too. Fire fighter Dennis O'Neil joined the Jersey City Fire Department in 1971. Rising through the ranks and finally being the acting chief in 1995 where he led a uniform force of more than 600 fire fighters and officers. Dennis spent the entire time on the street as a line officer. During that time he also coached thousands of New Jersey and New York firefighters to take, to take and prepare for the civil service promotional examinations. D. O'Neil has won, has won too many awards for us to mention. We could list stuff from now till, till it's somebody else's turn. He's won so many awards, but we did ask a few of his close friends to comment on the doc for his receiving the lifetime achievement today. Garry Briese former IFC Director had this to say about Dennis O'Neil. Gary said he's a person who genuinely cares about the individual, the profession, and the institution of the National Fire Academy, and that combination is good for all of us. Steve Edwards, the director of the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute said I truly respect Dennis O'Neal. He is the consumate professional, a rare mix of fire service street smarts and a doctorial degree, and most importantly, he has never forgotten where the street smarts came from. Steve said he saw this once in a meeting in Washington DC. And to quote Steve the bureaucrat that faced Denis never knew what hit him. On a personal note I can remember reading about chief Dennis O'Neil early on. It's a great story. It's the story of a mom and pop chemical plant. Remember this is New Jersey. On the fourth of July, it's on fire and leaking. Now, downwind are hundreds of fireworks watchers on a typical New Jersey, one way in, one way out, no escape road. And Chief Denise O'Neill in command receives the following report from a dispatchers. The dispatchers relaying that a chemical expert thought that if the fire was extinguished with water everything would be okay. And there's a pause on the radio and a very calm Dennis O'Neil stated, I don't care what he thinks. I wanna know he know what he knows. That story is legendary. That story makes the Hallmark of what real leadership looks like under pressure in combat. It paints the portrait of a true fire chief and a true gentleman. It's how America sees our fire chiefs. And it's how we see Chief Dennis Oneal. Friends, fellow fire fighters, former NFA students, I'm extremely proud and extremely honored to ask you now to please rise and join in welcoming, welcoming Dr. Oneal to the stage. The 2007 Fire Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Chief Dr. Dennis Onieal. >> [MUSIC] [MUSIC] [SOUND] Quite honestly, I never thought anyone would do this nice for me while I was still vertical. But it's really nice. I suppose that a lot of people would be anxious to talk about their accomplishments but I'm not. I think most people that have these things happen to them, they realize that they really stand on the shoulders of. People who have gone before them. People who are stand next to them. And people they admire. And, when I talk about that. It's kind of a three-legged stool. And the first leg of that stool. In [UNKNOWN] men and women of the fire service who encourage me every single day I go to work. I get up in the morning and I work for you. And if you don't believe me, check your paystub under federal withholding tax. And I, I love working for you, I really do. The second leg of the stool are the men and women that I get work with at the National Fire Academy. You know, Roxana, Smiley White are here. Patty Oddbird and Tim. That there's a whole bunch of folks here and, and they work very, very hard for you everyday. Course the men and women that I worked in New Jersey City Fire Department as well are the second leg of that stool. And the third leg of that stool is my family, my wife of 36 years. Clapping. My daughter Katy and her husband Ron, from the Fairfax fire department, and two great grand daughters. And my son Brian a Jersey City fire fighter and a United States marine Iraqi War veteran. [SOUND] If you're very lucky. And you work hard and you enjoy your work, maybe you'll get three letters on a stool like I have. Thank you all. Thank you. >> Please stay. We have. Stay for a second. If you indulge us for one more second, I'd like to invite Chief Ron Kellerman from the [UNKNOWN] Fire Department. And the president of the national fire academy alumni association. Ron Cannerman. >> Morning, congratulations. >> I've got to put that up here for a second so the cameras can get a shot. We've just honored the most dangerous men in America. This guy's a truckie with a Ph. D. >> [LAUGH] >> So Of course you know a man who rose to the top of his game and actually he's the top fire instructor in the United States by his title. The National Fire Academy Alumni Association wants to recognize. The outstanding choice Fire Engineering and [UNKNOWN] has made in selecting Dennis for this year's recipient for the lifetime achievement award. I know first hand that the national fire academy has become the premiere federal training system of all federal training systems bar none. This hunk of glass up here, indicates a mountain top. Let me read what it says. Doctor Dennis O'Neil Superintendent of National Fire Academy, for reaching the peak and staying in there. Today's date. Congratulations doc. Clapping.