After serving for 10 years as a member of the state of Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue Team, Capt. Michael Howley of Middletown’s South District Fire Department has been given a leadership role in the statewide organization.
Howley has been appointed as one of three task force leaders from among a pool of six candidates. The new role will be in addition to Howley’s full-time position as training officer and third in command at South Fire District.
“I consider it a high honor for me and the South District Fire Department," he said. “The training I have received during my 10 years with Urban Search and Rescue is truly unique and has been invaluable in my day-to-day role at South District.”
The Urban Search and Rescue Team, headquartered at Brainard Airport in Hartford, is made up of firefighters, police officers and civilians, each with specialized skills, who serve with the statewide agency in addition to their regular employment. The team is part of the State of Connecticut, Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Howley said members participate in training exercises on nights and weekends at least once per month.
William P. Shea, Deputy Commissioner of the State’s Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, announced the appointment the three successful applicants. "All have tremendous skills, background and expertise to serve as US&R Task Force Leaders.” Appointments are effective immediately.
This is the second time this summer that Howley has distinguished himself. Recently he was certified as a Fire Service Chief Executive Officer by Texas A&M University. Howley received the certification after completing an intensive, week-long training program, at the university’s Mays Business School in College Station, Texas. To be allowed into the program, applicants had to previously complete several levels of Fire Officer Training, which Howley did at the Connecticut Fire Training Academy and at the Alabama Fire College.
South District Fire Chief Robert J. Ross served as a Task Force Leader himself from 2005-2007. “I am well aware of the time commitment and responsibility that comes with this appointment," he said.
"Capt. Howley will serve the team well in this leadership position and I am pleased that he and others selected are willing to make the personal commitment needed to the team. Those who are in need of a response from the Urban Search and Rescue Team will be well cared for.”
The Connecticut Urban Search and Rescue Team operates a fleet of specialized vehicles which carry equipment that can be used to assist local officials with all types of large scale emergencies, including collapsed buildings, large area searches and swift water rescues.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Howley said, “a Task Force of team members was deployed to East Haven to assist local official in a systematic search, looking for possible victims, in the rubble of destroyed homes along the shore.” During the record snowstorms of January and February 2011, team members were deployed to several communities across the state, including Middletown to assist with the search of collapse of buildings.
Locally, the US&R team also responded to assist in the search for victims after the Kleen Energy Plant explosion.
Howley said he was among two dozen fire service officers from across the country that attended the Texas A&M University program and was the only fire officer from New England in attendance.
Howley joined the South District Fire Department as a firefighter in 1995. Prior to being promoted to captain in August of last year, Howley spent nearly 12 years as a lieutenant and shift supervisor at South District. He also holds numerous certifications as fire service officer and instructor and earlier this year he completed the Emergency Medical Service Instructors Training Course.