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JBER fire station, Airman win top Air Force honors

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Senior Master Sgt. Tobias Adam, 673d civil engineer squadron deputy fire officer poses for portrait photo by his emergency services response vehicle April 23. Adam was awarded the Pacific Air Force fire officer of the year award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Ty-Rico Lea)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Senior Master Sgt. Tobias Adam, 673d civil engineer squadron deputy fire officer poses for portrait photo by his emergency services response vehicle April 23. Adam was awarded the Pacific Air Force fire officer of the year award. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman Ty-Rico Lea)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Service members from all walks of life receive awards recognizing their outstanding accomplishments every day. One Airman, however, embodies what those awards are meant to recognize.

Senior Master Sgt. Tobias Adam, deputy fire officer with the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron, has demonstrated skills that have garnered one of the highest public servant decorations - the Air Force fire officer of year.

Adam was one of the first responders during JBER's Arctic Thunder Air Show and Open House when a C-17 Globemaster III crashed July 8, 2010. He was tasked with extinguishing the fires at the incident, as well as helping firefighters under his command maintain steadfast focus.

Adam spoke about the lengthy recovery process of the aircraft and how he would have to alternate between keeping a stone face during the mission and smiling with family and friends when he went home.

"That incident was something that I hope very few people have the opportunity to experience," Adam said.

Throughout his Air Force career as a firefighter and officer, Adam has received missions requiring him to deliver babies, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and even pull victims of incidents from rubble and wrecked machinery.

"Every call we receive is different, and it is very difficult to pinpoint which one stands out to me the most," Adam said. "I would have calls that I can eventually be proud to take and save a life, or I could receive a call concerning a suicide. So as a strong-minded individual, you have to learn how to find that balance."

David Donan, 673d CES fire chief, had words of praise to extend for Adam in regards to his work on JBER and outside his job with the many recreational activities he takes part in.

"The award that Adam received in commendation for his work is managed by a system with the Department of Defense Fire Emergency services awards," Donan, a retired chief master sergeant, said. "The awards are divided up into several categories known as military fire officer of the year, civilian fire officer of the year, military firefighter of the year and civilian firefighter of the year just to name a few."

JBER Fire Emergency Services was also honored with the Air Force Fire Department of the Year Award (Large Category).

Adam's role as fire officer is to exercise command and control during a call. He also has administrative responsibilities within his organization.

"What makes this department so unique from other fire departments is that we have the widest ground to cover given we are one of the largest bases," Donan said. "This provides Airmen like Adam the opportunity to really invest themselves in expanding their on-hand knowledge. As a fire chief, it makes me feel incredibly proud to have Adam be nominated for such a prestigious award.".

Adam attributes much of his success to being active as a child.

"I would play a lot of baseball and football growing up, and I became involved in various extracurricular activities," Adam said.

Donan said the JBER fire department has very high expectations for its workers and holds those individuals accountable for those expectations to be met, so Adam's leadership has been invaluable.

"What I have noticed throughout my years as a military service member is that those Airmen involved in team-building activities, either before enlisting or after, tend to be more successful in this career field," Donan said. "The reason I say this is because everything we do is as a team, everyone has their role to play."

Since his tour at JBER began, Adam has acted as the captain for the fire department's intramural sports team and has led them to championships competing against both Air Force and Army teams.

Adam said he always knew he wanted to be in the military and has served his entire 17-year career in the Air Force as a firefighter.

"Growing up, I came to the decision that I wanted to be a military service member," Adam said. "The most rewarding part of being a military firefighter is that we are physical public servants and we rely on strength, ability and endurance to save lives and get the job done."

Adam enlisted in the Air Force at the age 17. Upon graduating Basic Military Training and eventually coming up on his fourth year of enlistment, Adam entertained thoughts of finishing his enlistment and venturing out into other career opportunities. However, he realized his decision to join the Air Force was a wise one, and he decided to continue his service in the military.

Adam's father, Robert Adam, is a retired chief petty officer and served 21 years in the Navy.

"My dad was a pretty strict guy thanks to all those years he spent in the Navy," Adam said. "He helped better prepare me for what I'd have to expect in military life."

Adam said the importance of his family also motivated him to reach his goals.

"Another defining force that compelled me to remain in the Air Force was the fact that I had a family that I had to maintain and support," Adam said. "So ever since then, I've just been 100 percent dedicated to my job and work ethic."