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MCAS Yuma home to Corps firefighter of the year

By Pfc. Robert L. Botkin | | July 14, 2005

Two Marine Corps Air Station Yuma Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Marines were recognized by the 2004 Marine Corps Fire and Emergency Service Awards.

Master Sgt. Steven A. Jackson was named the Marine Corps Military Fire Officer of the Year and Cpl. Ryan M. Pratt, senior rescueman for ARFF Section 1, was named Marine Corps Military Firefighter of the Year.

Jackson has since had a permanent change of station to Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., and been assigned to the 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, which is preparing for deployment to the Middle East later this year.

Pratt joined the Marine Corps to serve as a firefighter in September 2002, due in part to his father, who is also a firefighter.

"I aspired to be (a firefighter) for a long time," said Pratt. "I didn't know the Marine Corps offered it as a job, and when I found out they did, I jumped on it."

Pratt was selected as a nominee for the award by Chief Warrant Officer 4 Roger E. Bond, ARFF officer-in-charge, upon a recommendation from Staff Sgt. Freddy W. King Jr., ARFF noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

"He's a stellar performer," said King. "Regardless of his rank, he's one of the more knowledgable Marines we have here in the (military occupational specialty)."

This knowledge is displayed in the numerous certifications and accomplishments Pratt has accumulated in his two years on base.

Pratt has completed classes such as the Firefighter I and II courses, Hazardous Materials Awareness, Hazardous Materials Operations I and II, Airport Firefighting, and Wildland Firefighting.

Less than six credits away from his associates degree in fire science, Pratt is also a licensed cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor, self-contained breathing apparatus technician and aircraft rescue simulator operator.

Pratt also ensures he is not the only properly trained Marine. He has been the ARFF training NCO since he arrived in June 2003, keeping more than 20 Marines up-to-date with the current National Fire Protection Agency standards and practices.

Those accomplishments and duties contributed to the decision to nominate Pratt for the award, King said. He was also chosen from among his peers because of his ability to lead.

"We had a crash back in December," said King, "When he got on scene, he was the senior guy there. Typically it's a staff sergeant or above that gets there and takes charge."

Pratt immediately stepped up and controlled the situation, and his crew managed to extinguish the fire with zero loss of life and zero further property damage, said King.

"For a young NCO to be able to take charge, utilize all the assets available to him, perform as a leader at the scene, and mitigate the situation like that, plus be able to speak professionally and relay information up to higher levels such as lieutenant colonels and colonels, that was a big deal," said King. "He did an outstanding job."

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