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Local “Burn boss” honored at Brookhaven National Lab

RICHARD LOMUSCIO PHOTO Forest Ranger Bryan Gallagher speaking after being honored in a ceremony at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Forest Ranger Bryan Gallagher speaking after being honored in a ceremony at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

Silver Beach resident and Forest Ranger Bryan Gallagher received a Certificate of Merit award at a ceremony at Brookhaven National Laboratory on October 26 marking the 20th anniversary of the founding of the New York Wildfire and Incident Management Academy.

The certificate of merit praised Officer Gallagher as a long-time team member and acknowledged the “tremendous support of the academy you have demonstrated during your tenure.” It recognized his “substantial” efforts that have aided the academy.

These efforts “resulted in the education and training of thousands of students in New York, the United States and around the globe in the areas of wildfire management and incident response,” the award said.

Presented by John Pavacic, executive director of the Central Pine Barrens Commission, the award ceremony was attended by numerous state and county officials including Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine. Other firefighting personnel from as far away as Colorado were also honored.

As a forest ranger, Officer Gallagher is employed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. He is also a member of the New York State Incident Management Team. His work involves patrolling and policing the 100,000-acre Pine Barrens to the west of Manorville.

As a member of the Incident Management team, he’s ready to deploy where needed in case of an emergency. New York State Forest Rangers have a cooperative agreement with the United States Forest Service that might call upon Ranger Gallagher to fight fires as far away as California.

At the fire academy, Officer Gallagher is known as the “Burn Boss,” because of his experiences in fighting wildfires and teaching others to do so.

The academy was founded as a result of the inferno that ravaged the Pine Barrens at the end of the summer of 1995. The academy’s mission has been to provide training for firefighters and first responders and also provide incident management training for federal, tribal, state, county and local governments .

The objective is to develop abilities to produce action plans and manage large scale incidents.

It’s the only major academy of its kind in the northeastern United States.

Speaking at the event, a member of the New York City Fire Department said, “No matter how prepared you are for an disaster, it’s always good to know that there are others out there ready to give you assistance.”

Officer Gallagher keeps physically fit and ready to deploy at a moment’s notice whether it’s for a hurricane, a wildfire or a terrorist attack. He’s a runner, and coaches the Shelter Island School cross country and track teams.