Andersen Fire Department wins Firefighter Heroism Team Award Published April 10, 2007 By Airman Basic Evan Carter 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The Andersen Fire Department won four out of six Pacific Air Force level awards available for fire squadrons in 2006 including the Firefighter Heroism Team Award. The Firefighter Heroism Team Award was awarded to five members for their heroic and lifesaving actions when their water rescue team saved two tourists in November of 2006. "We received a call for help from a pleasure boat that had lost power near Tarague Beach and was drifting towards the reef line," said Chief John Thompson, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department. "Our water rescue team launched three jet skis within 15 minutes of the call and was able to maneuver in 15-20 foot ocean swells to scoop up two Japanese tourists that had abandoned the boat. The combined efforts of the Andersen Fire Department and the Helicopter Sea Combat squadron twenty-five saved five lives that day." Other Andersen firefighter award winners for 2006 include: Master Sgt. Timothy Rickard, 36 CES Fire Department deputy chief, Military Officer of the Year; William O'Meara, 36 CES Fire Department, Civilian Firefighter of the Year, and Derick Eshelman, 36 CES Fire Department, Civilian Fire Officer of the Year. Out of all the fire stations he's been assigned to, Master Sgt. Rickard said that Andersen was the busiest and best of them all. "At Andersen we get the most unusual and unexpected emergencies. Last year, we had wildfires, cliff and water rescues and a 13-hour transfer station fire," said Sergeant Rickard. "My favorite part of the job is never knowing what's going to happen next because it keeps us on our toes." Mr. Eshelman, Civilian Fire Officer of the Year winner, explained how exciting and rewarding his time at the Andersen Fire Department has been. "That amount of knowledge and experience that I've gained from working with such a strong team has made my job easier and led to many wonderful experiences," he said. "The quality of our team is exceptional from top to bottom, and that is what has attributed to our successes as a department." All PACAF fire departments are doing great and heroic things, but the Andersen Fire Department is unique said Chief Thompson. "Andersen is the only base in PACAF to have a water rescue team. That team risked their lives to save others seven times last year," he said. "As most people on Guam know, the waters are beautiful, but dangerous. Guam had nine water-related deaths in 2006 and three already this year. It's no easy feat to save lives in Guam's treacherous waters." The award winners are now competing at the Air Force level. The results are expected to be released June. The Air Force winners compete for Department of Defense honors that are announced at the August 2007 Fire Chief's Conference in Atlanta, Ga.