Grissom Fire Department brings the heat, secures two AFRC awards
Grissom Fire Department brings the heat, secures two AFRC awards


For the second time in four years, Grissom’s fire department received the Chief Master Sergeant Ralph E. Sanborn Award which annually recognizes the best medium-sized fire department within Air Force Reserve Command.

“Our team does great things and we get to brag about them,” said Bryan Clements, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron fire chief, while reflecting on the win. “It’s the easiest part of the job.”

Clements believes that the department’s execution of its primary mission set – safeguarding the wing’s KC-135R Stratotanker fleet – played a major role in the unit’s selection for the award.

“It was a heavy lift,” shared Clements when reflecting on the 150-day closure of the base’s runway, which ran from March to September 2023 and covered much of the award period. “Between maintaining crews at both locations, coordinating with the [Federal Aviation Administration], existing units and local departments, it was a lot. But we were well received and it was a great learning opportunity for our folks.”

In addition to protecting the wing’s 16 tankers, whether at home station or Fort Wayne International Airport, the fire team was also lauded for their continuous support of the base’s local communities. Through mutual aid agreements covering 373 square miles, the department was able to respond to 378 incidents throughout the year, including 26 motor vehicle accidents and 13 house fires.

In addition to the unit award, one firefighter racked up individual honors as well.

Kenneth Doan, 434th CES assistant chief for health and safety, was selected by AFRC as the Civilian Fire Officer of the Year. Doan played a critical role in supporting the unit’s efforts and personnel, according to the fire chief.

Between conducting the risk analysis for fire operations at Fort Wayne, developing the agency’s first comprehensive mental health program and designing a new tracking system for the unit’s protective equipment, Clements said that “it was an easy package to write because he’s done so much for us.”

A Fort Wayne native, Doan joined the Air Force in 2004 and has served in various capacities with the federal government as a firefighter, including as a contractor and Army civilian. He joined Team Grissom in April 2023.

“He’s the go to guy for us. When we have something that we know is going to be a challenge, he’s usually the person we task because he always produces a product that you can be proud of,” said Clements.

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