Robert Colameta Jr. is this year’s recipient of the International Society of Fire Service Instructors (ISFSI) George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award.
Colameta received the award during the opening of the Fire Department Instructors Conference in Indianapolis this week.
Colameta, a firefighter with the Everett (Mass.) Fire Department, has more than 22 years experience in adult education working with the Massachusetts Department of Fire Service as assistant coordinator of curriculum, assistant coordinator for the office of Certification, and coordinator of staff and service instructor training.
More recently, he developed an online training network called “The Public Safety Education Network” which provides municipal departments with custom training.
In 2005, he contracted with the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to build a curriculum around the “Courage to be Safe” program and the following year, he was named the national program manager of that very same program.
In that role, he’s developed more than three dozen online learning media segments based on the 16 Life Safety Initiatives of the NFFF.
He continues to teach around the country and in Massachusetts.
In a video presentation about the recipient, the ISFSI said Colameta “has committed a lifetime to preventing firefighter line of duty deaths” and continues to do so as the curriculum developer for the “Courage to be Safe” program, providing support for more than 500 instructors across the country.
Several colleagues praised Colameta for his tireless dedication to training firefighters and keeping them safe.
In accepting the award, Colameta said he stood before those gathered in the ballroom at FDIC witnessing the presentation, “very humbled and very proud and happy to be receiving the George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award.’
He said his path to this point in his career had been unique and that the award is the culmination of his hopes to build a long and lasting legacy within the fire service.
Colameta said that the firefighter culture needs to change so that the NFFF’s 16 initiatives to prevent line of duty deaths will be embraced.
“There is no reason why mandating seatbelts continues to be so challenging,” Colameta said. “There’s no reason any one of us isn’t helping improving our health and wellness, seeing our doctors regularly, so we live long and healthy for our families.”
In teaching around the country, Colameta said he knows firefighters live for their families, but they are not always smart about their goals.
“If you live to love your families, then ladies and gentlemen, it’s time to love our families and live,” he said. “Firefighter life safety starts with you and it starts with each one of us.”
He challenged firefighters to prevent needless line of duty deaths by all means and reminded everyone that if a life is to be risked, it should be only to save one.
Complacency is the enemy and firefighters should be vigilant in doing all they can to keep themselves and fellow firefighters safe, he said.
He used an analogy of the difference between hot and boiling water and the effort required to be safe on the fire scene.
“At 211 degrees, water is hot,” Colameta said. “At 212 degrees, it turns into steam that is powerful enough to move a locomotive. That one extra degree makes all the difference. The one degree of extra effort is what we need from you. It will separate the good from great.”
Colameta reminded the audience that the NFFF has a goal of reducing firefighter line of duty deaths by 50 percent by 2014.
“We can achieve it with your help,” he said. “…I have never been so proud to be part of the American fire service as I am today. How about you