MILITARY MATTERS: Fort Benning firefighters win national honors from DOD

Updated: Oct. 9, 2020 at 12:24 AM EDT
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FORT BENNING, Ga. (WTVM) - A pair of firefighters on Fort Benning recently won some of the top national honors given by the Department of Defense (DOD).

It was in part for rescuing soldiers and protecting those on the army installation during the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have the distinct honor of serving those who protect and defend the United States,” said Fort Christopher Anderson, Fort Benning Fire Dept. Battalion Chief.

More than 100 firefighters on Fort Benning respond to all kinds of emergencies. One of them was just named the 2019 Civilian Firefighter of the Year for the nation’s entire military, a top honor from the Department of Defense.

Capt. Mark Lamb began his firefighting career a decade ago as a student at Auburn University. Then he moved on to the Opelika and now Fort Benning fire departments. He’s been part of special operations three years for the army installation’s fire department.

“We rescued, one call, 16 paratroopers at one time. They were stuck anywhere from 30+ feet up in the air,” Lamb said.

What started out as Lamb being a nominee for Fort Benning’s firefighter of the year led to other competitions and recently being surprised with the highest honor from the DOD.

“It’s just a ranking out of your call volume, calls, programs you may be a part of, education, outstanding performance. Everything from basically my entire career would culminate into a resume and packet,” Lamb said.

His resume includes saving the life of a soldier who fell 75 feet. It’s an award that his colleagues said represents the highest standard of care the firefighters provide for people on Fort Benning.

“And it [award] shows what we do every day means something,” Anderson said.

Fort Benning Assistant Chief Ryan Earwood also won Fire Service Instructor of the Year from the DOD. The Decatur, Alabama native, who wasn’t available for an interview, is in charge of the training requirements for 115 people, which is 22,000 hours worth on America’s sixth largest installation.

“Assistant Chief Earwood is responsible for everything from confined space, technical rescue, aircraft firefighting, and structural exercises,” Anderson said about his colleague.

Along with all his rescue certifications, Lamb was promoted to be over the hazmat station on Fort Benning, which has been especially busy taking on COVID-19.

“There was different tools that were allocated and used to decon (decontaminate) areas, individuals, equipment to make them safe,” Lamb described.

Fort Benning Fire and Emergency Services also took first place for the entire army in the large fire department category by taking almost 3,500 calls for service, and protecting more than 6,000 buildings over 30 million square feet of property.

“We’re all committed to the highest level where at any moments notice, whatever the emergency is, we need to be able to mitigate it,” Anderson said.

“It’s definitely a big win for the team and the department. Everything we do here at the fire department is done as a team,” C Lamb saying about the individual awards being for the team too.

And these award-winning firefighters are focused on tackling the next obstacle.

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