By Rita L. Reith
On the heels of what is best described as an intense, high-profile year, the Indianapolis (IN) Fire Department (IFD) honored their own Friday evening for exemplary performance during 2013. Held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom, over 104 awards were given to IFD firefighters, civilian employees and citizens of Indianapolis.
IFD firefighters were praised for their work during several large incidents that occurred in 2013, including the Belmont Fire, the Keystone Bus Crash, the Van Buren Fire, 30th & Clifton Fire, the 9th & Sherman Warehouse Fire and the All Pro Scrap Fire. In addition to more than 613 working fires, IFD firefighters responded to and mitigated incidents that reflected the power of teamwork, the importance of training and the ability to maintain composure under extreme stress. In a highlight of the evening, IFD Firefighter Chris McGrone was on hand to present his fellow firefighters with the “Professional Excellence Award” for saving his life during a fire after he suffered the catastrophic loss of his breathing air. McGrone spent days in a medically induced coma after breathing in superheated gases but has since recovered and returned to full duty.
One of the most important awards of the evening was given to the entire complement of 1,154 Firefighters and presented jointly to IFD Fire Chief Brian Sanford and Fire Operations Chief Ken Bacon. The “IFD Unit Commendation” was awarded by the IFD Recognition Committee, to the department as a whole, after reviewing the year’s events and realizing just how much the department has accomplished through its efforts to serve the city in 2013. Reflecting further during Chief Sanford’s tenure, the committee noted the immense national scrutiny under which the IFD has performed. Amongst the 3,421 working fires since 2009, you may remember The Canal Fire, The 16th and College Fire, Richmond Hill Explosion, Texas Roadhouse Fire, 10th and Pennsylvania Fire, Meridian St. Fire, the Garfield Park Chemical Spill or the Indiana State Fair Collapse, just to name a few.
Nationally, the IFD has been widely praised for its ability to safely work as a team while maintaining the integrity and objectives of an incident command system that often includes multiple agencies and disciplines. This award is a reflection of both the leadership provided by the IFD command staff and to the firefighters on the street who commit to serve 24/7. Considered a leader in the fire service on progressive health and safety issues, firefighting and fire service training, the IFD credits in part, the ongoing 20 year relationship with the Fire Department Instructors Conference and PennWell publishing. The opportunity to learn the latest techniques and information is a priceless tool afforded the IFD and surrounding departments every year as they bring the FDIC Conference and 30,000 firefighters to our city.
Citizens honored by IFD included 8-year old Caleb Webster, IMPD Officer Frank Wooten and DNR Conservation Officer Jett Quillen.
Chosen by their peers, the winners of the 2013 Peer Leadership are:
A Shift: Lieutenant Todd Walsh
B Shift: Private Jimmy Donlan
C Shift: Private Stephen Brad Morris
IFD Firefighter Pvt. Sue Shepherd was given the prestigious Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) Service Award, presented by the Editor of Fire Engineering Magazine/PennWell Publishing, retired Chief Robert Halton.
The Indianapolis Fire Department is committed to providing the most comprehensive service to the citizens we serve. Through our external efforts with Education, Prevention and Victim’s Assistance we regard the safety of the residents of Indianapolis our highest priority. Internally, we maintain that firefighter life safety, training, continued health and education is our #1 responsibility to ensure that “everyone goes home safe.” However, we recognize that we cannot accomplish our individual mission without the great partnerships we are fortunate to have. We would like to again congratulate all the recipients of awards at the IFD Recognition Ceremony.