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Sheppard Firefighter Recognized for Heroism

  • Published
  • By Julie Svoboda
  • 82nd Training Wing

A Sheppard Air Force Base firefighter will receive the Senior Master Sergeant Robert A. McAllister Heroism award for her life-saving actions during a dorm fire in August, 2022.

Samantha McCaffity was part of a firefighting crew that responded to what was initially considered a routine call at a dorm. When firefighters arrived, they quickly determined there was an active fire and located it. Upon entering the room, McCaffity extinguished the flames and rendered life-saving aid to a person who was in the room.

For McCaffity, firefighting is more than a job – it’s a calling. She attended a firefighter academy toward the end of her active-duty Navy career. At first, the career change was tough.

“I didn’t think I could because I’m very small-statured,” she said. “I worked my butt off, and especially in a male-dominated world, it’s hard. But once you’re in it, you’re in it for life.”

Lead Fire Officer Brett Wall commended the clear-headed professionalism displayed by McCaffity and her fellow awardee, Matt Deanda during the fire. Deanda has since transferred to another base.

“Their actions saved a life,” he said. “They were able to go in and do what we’re trained to do like clockwork. We train for it all the time and when it was finally time to do it, they were able to get it done.”

Although McCaffity is being recognized for her heroic actions on that day in August, 2022, Wall remarked that her daily efforts are exceptional as well.

“She excels at everything she does,” he said. “She’s a professional firefighter.”

McCaffity credits the entire crew working that night for the successful outcome of the call, noting that without the efforts of Wall and their driver, Carl Lamb, she and Deanda would not have been able to perform their jobs. The camaraderie within the field one of the aspects of the job she loves most.

“We’re there for the biggest lows and biggest highs,” she said. “I appreciate them for bringing me in, and especially the mentality that we’re in it together. You’re relying on each other, and at the end of the day, it’s you and the other person. It’s like family.”