HERLONG, Calif .– A combination of wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic occupied the Sierra Army Depot fire department in 2020.
And now the US military recognizes the department for its efforts.
Sierra Army Depot Firefighter Michael Graves was selected as the U.S. Army Firefighter of the Year, while the Sierra Army Depot Fire Department was selected as the U.S. Army Fire Department of the Year. US Army Materiel Command – the 4-star command of the United States Army that oversees installation support and materiel readiness to the United States Army.
“The Sierra Army Depot is proud of the selfless service our firefighters and first responders display on a daily basis,” said Lt. Col. Amy Cory, Commander of the Sierra Army Depot. “Our first responders are dedicated to protecting the repository, our workforce, and our surrounding communities, where appropriate. They persevere under some of the most physically and mentally demanding conditions you can put on a human. The recognition received by the Department of the Army and the Army Materiel Command is a testament to their tireless training and professionalism. “
Graves and the Department were officially recognized by filing, on October 14, for the distinguished work and accomplishments during the 2020 calendar year that led to their recognition at the CMA and Department levels of the army.
“This recognition is a huge honor for all of us and gives us even more momentum to strive harder for the next challenge,” said Eric Pietrylo, fire chief of Sierra Army Depot.
The US military has awarded Graves the title of Civilian Firefighter of the Year. Graves was instrumental in wildland firefighting efforts when he led a team of Type 3 engines on a 14-day deployment to the Sheep Fire, which involved 30,000 acres and destroyed 26 homes in the county de Lassen from August 20 to September 4, 2020. He also served as an engine boss during the North Complex fire that involved 318,000 acres and 2,455 damaged structures.
He worked with 14 other crew members while the crew contributed 1,000 man-hours to the firefighting effort. Graves led offensive fire suppression efforts against the wind-blown ash forest fire. He led six other firefighters, stopping the spread of the blaze in the community. Graves also led mobile home fire attack operations and prevented a large vegetation fire.
“I am extremely proud of Mike,” said Pietrylo. “He is a team player through and through and as the Chief Firefighter he safely trains his teams to success with each assigned task.”
Graves also helped lead the department’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic for the filing. He tested all firefighters for face masks, developed personal protective equipment response kits, and used the kits for quarantined employees. It also facilitated with the local public health authorities the constitution of a reserve of personal protective medical equipment to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We have learned that despite all the additional challenges associated with COVID-19, we can adapt to these conditions while still providing the best service we have ever provided,” said Pietrylo.
The department as a whole was recognized for its emergency response to 226 structural, wilderness and vehicle emergencies in 2020. The department fought 18 fires without firefighter injuries. The department also established the procedure for transporting employees potentially exposed to COVID to an isolated facility, limiting the exposure of depot personnel.
“Our fire department is the busiest I have ever seen in my career,” said Pietrylo, a Defense Ministry firefighter for 40 years. “I couldn’t be more proud of this team with the way they professionally approach every emergency response.”
The 2020 experience prepared the department for the 2021 fire season, as the department provided fire protection for the Beckwourth and Dixie complex. The ministry protected homes and infrastructure in surrounding communities.
“We are currently seeing the results of our preparation from 2020 with the forest fire activity of this season,” said Pietrylo. “The risk has been close to Sierra Army Depot and it certainly gives us confidence that we are ready, if necessary.”
|Date posted:||10.14.2021 17:05|
|Site:||HERLONG, California, United States|
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