Propulsion Airman, volunteer firefighter

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kimberly Barrera

Airmen and their families live, work, eat and play in the communities where they are stationed. One way service members can make their new communities feel more like home is to get involved in the community and connect with local residents.

Senior Airman Derreck Radzieski, 4th Component Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion technician, is a volunteer firefighter at Belfast fire station, in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

“We come from all over the country for, sometimes, very brief stays in their towns and homes,” said Radzieski. “It’s important that we make good connections, good impressions and leave an impact that will leave the community appreciative of the base and its Airmen.”

Radzieski wanted to get involved in the community. His supervisor recommended he become a volunteer firefighter to express his passion in helping others in the community.

“My grandfather was a firefighter and I still don’t know what I want to do when I grow up,” added Radzieski. “Stepping outside of your known comfort zone and allowing yourself to be challenged is the best way to grow as a person. The firefighters at Belfast station are emergency management technicians, doctors and engineers. It’s contagious to be around people who are so successful, humble and hardworking.”

After Radzieski’s first day, he knew it was exactly what he was looking to do in the community.

“For my first day of training, I was in charge of a simple task; using a fog machine to smoke out the training house and boarding up the windows so the more experienced guys could break into the house and do a zero-visibility drill,” said Radzieski. “I was hooked!”

Radzieski has learned a lot after eight months of volunteering at Belfast fire station.

“Learn, learn, learn,” said Radzieski of his experience. “Training is one to two times a week. Continual learning is paramount. Being a good leader means being well versed and able to adapt. Knowledge is power.”

For Radzieski, being a volunteer firefighter is its own reward but it also benefits his military career. Aside from making valuable connections in the community and has gained hands on experience training in emergency situations.

“I have an emergency responder application on my phone, as well as a radio for calls,” said Radzieski. “We respond to everything from a flipped car to a burning building.”

In the military, Radzieski works on F-15E Strike Eagle engines. He repairs, replaces and performs general maintenance on the Pratt and Whitney 220 engine. He is also a trainer and a frontline supervisor.

“His work as a volunteer firefighter has contributed to his growth in the Air Force,” said Tech. Sgt. Tristan Berger, 4th Componence Maintenance squadron jet engine intermediate level maintenance noncommissioned officer in charge. “As a firefighter you have to put others first, which correlates to being a good leader. Firefighting also builds on being a team player. Fire fighters work together to stay alive, in the engine shop a strong team gets the job done more efficiently.”

Radzieski emphasized the importance of not only volunteering in the community, but also finding something you enjoy doing.

“Do something that has meaning to you,” said Radzieski. “Volunteering doesn’t have to be a chore. I love every minute of firefighting. Airmen need to be examples, we live in a great country and are all blessed.”