The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) has named Robert J. Donahue the new chief of the Massport Fire Rescue Department. After a nation-wide search involving a review of close to 60 applicants, Massport selected the 23-year veteran of Logan International Airport fire, rescue and emergency operations.
"Bob Donahue is a dedicated and experienced professional who brings the vision and skills necessary to build upon our strong public safety performance and maintain Logan in a leadership role," said Massport CEO Craig Coy. "After an extensive search process and national recruitment effort, his know-how and accomplishments placed him well above the competition. Chief Donahue's nationally recognized achievements will serve him well as he continues to provide the traveling public with the best in fire and rescue expertise and experience."
"By learning from disaster incidents around the country, Bob has stayed ahead of the curve and made Logan an example for other airports to follow," said John J. Goglia, National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Member. "Beyond his leadership role in rescue operations, Bob also has worked to improve procedures for dealing with the surviving family of aviation accident victims. His interface with the NTSB and the aviation safety community is second to none."
Since December 2001, Donahue has been Acting Fire Chief and was the architect behind Logan's most recent - and largest - emergency drill involving more than 50 city, state and federal agencies. As Acting Fire Chief, he oversaw and managed the 97-person department and worked on facility risk assessments, terrorism response planning and a comprehensive terminal protection and life safety initiative. Over the more than two decades with the Massport Fire Rescue Department, Donahue has risen through the ranks and achieved national recognition for several initiatives including the development of a GO TEAM with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to assess aviation disasters and conduct on-site case studies. The results of the GO TEAMs have led to many safety improvements at Logan including the removal of a 600-foot long wall at the end of a runway, the construction of runway safety incline ramps, improved water rescue procedures and the creation of airport/community emergency planning programs. As a firefighter Donahue saw tragedy firsthand when he responded to the World Airways accident at Logan in 1982.
"Massport has selected someone with a depth of talent and experience and who has put Logan on the map as a national model for aircraft emergency response," said Boston Fire Commissioner Paul Christian, who assisted on the search committee and interviewed the final candidates. "In addition to his long list of accomplishments, Bob is true leader and a well-respected fire fighter. I feel proud to have him right here in Boston."
Donahue has also worked with multi-agency teams to develop unified emergency responses for Logan, Hanscom Field in Bedford, Worcester Regional Airport, the Tobin Bridge and Massport's waterfront facilities and property. Initiatives that have become national models include:
- the design, testing and implementation of an emergency aircraft frequency at Logan,
- the development and testing of technology for enhanced mapping and low-visibility vision systems during emergency responses, and
- the creation of a U.S. airport's first comprehensive family assistance plan for an airport disaster.
"As a commercial airline pilot, I have been very impressed with Massport's proactive approach in going above and beyond the requirements and setting the bar for aviation safety," said Captain Tom Phillips, the pilot representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) for rescue and firefighting. Captain Phillips has been a pilot for 29 years and is a key member of the Air Line Pilots Association representing 66,000 pilots from 43 U.S. and Canadian airlines. "Bob doesn't wait for accidents, he prevents them by developing solutions that go well beyond the immediate airport community. I credit much of Massport's success to his leadership and ability to bring people to the table."
Throughout his career Donahue has been recognized for his leadership by the Federal Aviation Administration, International Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Working Group, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, and National Academy of Emergency Room Physicians. A lifelong resident of Winthrop, Donahue is an active member of the National Fire Protection Association, American Association of Airport Executives and the Greater Boston Fire Safety Council.
"One of Chief Donahue's best attributes is his commitment to teamwork and willingness to work collaboratively with other agencies to make our airports, bridge and port as safe as they can be," added Coy.