ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.-- The 97th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services Flight celebrated Fire Prevention Week at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, Oct. 4-9, 2021. According to the National Fire Protection Association, during Fire Prevention Week, firefighters provide lifesaving, public education to children, adults and teachers in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.
Fire prevention week is a tradition for firefighters to proactively ensure the safety of the public community. Airman 1st Class Joseph Coveney, 97th CES fire prevention specialist, provides life-preserving information during fire prevention week while sharing a special legacy of his own.
Coveney is one of Altus AFB’s very own firefighters. Family legacy is the driving factor behind his service; it is what pushes him every day and, as he says, molded him into the Airman he is today.
“My grandfather, he was in the military,” said Coveney. “I’ve heard so many great things about the military and all the good times that he had... There’s this sense of duty and wanting to serve the country.”
To Coveney, his grandfather instilled this mentality of sacrifice for one’s country. Coveney knew he wasn’t meant to serve in just any position in the Air Force though; he was meant to be a firefighter.
Coveney is known around the fire station as “Dorchester” because he was born and raised in that prominent neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts. Boston holds a special place in Coveney’s heart; not only since he was raised there, but because his uncle is a firefighter there.
“My uncle, he’s a firefighter in Boston, and he’s been a real father figure to me, so he’s someone I try to model myself after.”
Along with his uncle, Coveney had grandparents and great grandparents that were firefighters as well. While carrying on the firefighter tradition, he wanted to serve not only his community, but also his country.
“Growing up, those are figures in my life that I looked up to,” said Coveney. “It’s one of those legacy things where it goes down the line and you follow the footsteps and it’s something we’ve been doing for a long time.”
Coveney’s legacy of firefighting and military service has led him here, where he’s found a feeling of belonging.
“There’s a lot of great things about my job,” said Coveney. “The station though, with everybody, it is kind of like a family. You get to have a good time with all the guys, but at any moment you can get a call, and every day is unpredictable. You definitely get to know how to work as a team. It’s not an individual job, you can’t do anything by yourself… You have to trust the guys you work with, because you’re looking out for each other.”
The sense of trusting one’s teammates goes both ways and is not lost on other members of his team. Even Christopher Sleeper, 97th CES assistant chief for fire prevention, who only has a couple years of experience with Coveney, knows he can put his trust in him.
“The fact is, when I need somebody, he’s there for me when I’m in a pinch,” said Sleeper. “I think he spreads that to every person that he knows, and he’s somebody that has their head on their shoulders at such a young age.”
Coveney is one of the many firefighters on Altus AFB that helps keep the 97th Air Mobility Wing’s mission going. Nobody knows when or where the next fire will be, but Altus AFB can rest easy knowing that Coveney and his team will be there, ready to douse the flames.