Daniel Madrzykowski Acceptance Remarks: Citizens Service Medal

Daniel Madrzykowski Acceptance Remarks: Citizens Service Medal


>>Well I don’t know whether or not
our next honorary was a boy scout but I do know he’s good at starting a first. Here to present tonight’s Citizen
Service Medal is Dr. Patrick Gallagher, Department of Commerce Acting Deputy
Secretary and Director of NIST. [ Music ]>>Dr. Patrick Gallagher:
Well good evening everybody. First of all, let me add my
thanks to the partnership for public service and all of its many sponsors. Thank goodness they take this time to honor
our most outstanding citizen servants. I also want to begin by adding
my congratulations to all of the finalists and awardees. You honor all of us in government
service with your achievement. So thank you and congratulations. Today, I have the honor of presenting the work
of Dan Madrzykowski, fire researcher in NIST. For me in my experience, for those working in
NIST some of the top scientists in the country, I noticed two traits that bring them to service. One is the interesting problems. Nothing tantalizes a scientist
more than a challenging and interesting intellectual
challenge but almost as much and possibly more is a powerful
need to make a difference. And Dan is a perfect example of that work ethic. His ingenuity and diligence inspires all
of us in this to reach a little higher and he epitomizes our mission to do
science that advances the public interest. Dan likes telling people that he burns
things for a living and he’s right. Dan has conducted top notch fire dynamics
research by finding buildings scheduled for demolition, recreating dangerous
fires, analyzing the blazes, and developing new practices that are
used fire departments across the country. But I should note that Dan spreads the word by
teaching numerous courses distributing thousands of copies of educational videos, operating a
popular website for the fire service community, and serving on 7 standards committees. So he not only does great science but
he’s committed to putting that work into practice every day saving lives. His work is helping to improve the
safety and effectiveness of firefighters. His work is reducing property loss and
most importantly, he is saving lives. Fighting a fire is hard work but teaching a
nation how to fight fires is truly invaluable. So everybody please join me in seeing
a little video about Dan’s work. [ Music ]>>Dan Madrzykowski: I’m
a fire protection engineer for the National Institute
of Standards and Technology. I currently serve as the leader of
the firefighting technology group which is part of the fire research division. Fire protection is a field that’s
advancing and moving pretty quickly. How can we give them better insight into
how that building’s going to respond to when they open the door
or if they break that window. Anything we could do to better their odds, increase their chances, that’s
what we want to do. Well the fire service doesn’t
fight fires in a laboratory. So we really had to look at how does
a fire in a real structure behave. We would start to instrument buildings
and really get an understanding of how the fire moved through the building. We really made a big push with the fire
service to help them understand how to control that fire behavior, how to
improve their tactics. We’re there shoulder to shoulder
and so once they see these fires for themselves, they see how the fire behaves. They see how it responds to different actions. We have incredible members of the fire
service board because they’re the ones that are then standing up and saying
you know what we’ve experienced this and this is really what happens. And we need to look at modifying our tactics. These guys are sort of the ultimate
public service, if you will. They’re, for all practical purposes, willing to sacrifice their life
to save somebody else’s life. And I want to do what I can to
make sure that they’re doing that in the safest manner possible. We’ve all heard that saying that, you know, if you love what you do you
never work a day in your life. And there is a large amount of truth to that. [ Music ] [ Clapping ]>>Dr. Patrick Gallagher: Please join
me in welcoming Dan Madrzykowski, the 2013 Citizen Services Medalist. Dan? [ Clapping ]>>Dan Madrzykowski: Thank you very much. It’s interesting that somebody
told the partnership about all these presentations
that I give to the fire service. And somebody must’ve also told them
that the shortest one is about 4 hours. Typical one goes about 8 hours
and many of them go on for days. So with that, they said only 3 sentences, Dan. So please thank you for this honor. I’m certainly in a group here that it’s hard to imagine myself being among
such great public servants. It’s really been my pleasure to serve the
fire protection community and to have a hand in increasing fire safety for the nation
as well as reducing the costs of fire. I’m really lucky, blessed in a
way that I got to work at NIST. I kind of fell into it through
a coop position many years ago. And NIST is sort of a unique
agency in the government. As I hear these stories, as I
was at the luncheon earlier today and people were talking about,
you know, NASA and fires in space. Well one of our guys worked on fires in
microgravity and got to ride the shuttle twice. With regard to forensics, we have a group that
works on cyber security and digital forensics. And we do some of the forensics for fires. So there’s all these connections. The Veterans Administration, we’re working
on helping them improve fire safety for some of the new convalescent facilities that
they’re developing for vets returning home. They need some help. So it’s just amazing how
it’s all connected together. And one of the reasons that NIST is such a
broad reach is that we have a great diversity of world class experts, scientists,
engineers, mathmeticians, technicians. Believe me, they make me look good. Computer programmers and even lawyers to help us
do our job, to help [laughter] us get to cities so we can light buildings on fire. And of course, I’d be remiss not to mention our
administrative support team handling contracts and the legal matters and what not and
the day to day time cards and such. We’d be lost without them. I mean NIST is truly a fertile
ground where knowledge, passion, and innovation really come together
and are cultivated for the public good. And I’m very proud to be a part of that. I’ve got two families. I’ve got the work family. Some of these folks that I’ve been working with,
my crew, in many cases for more than 20 years as we travel around the country
and light things on fire. And they get great pleasure when they meet
the fire chief for the first time whether it’s in Spartanburg, North Carolina,
or the Commissioner of FDNY and they say oh you’re going
to like working with Danny. Well, when we’re out in the field like this
we only have to work half days, 12 hours. So to my work family I’m very
thankful for their support and all that they’ve helped us accomplish. To the fire departments across the country
that are willing to sort of take a chance and inviting the pointy headed scientists
out not quite sure what we’re going to do and after the first day or two of
testing, then they really understand and then they help us design the
tests and make them even better. So it’s truly a great relationship. And last of all, I really need to
thank you my wife and my family. They’ve put up with me as my career has evolved
from sort of just a job to truly a calling, a vocation, and there’s many times that,
you know, I’m calling home from the field and I need something faxed or copied or I left a
notebook at home or I need something like that. Or sometimes, you know, you get those great
ideas in the shower just before you’re about to leave and then you
nudge your loved ones and say, hey could you sew some thermal
couples on this turnout gear for me? You know just before I get on the plane. And thank God, my wife Liz has never said no. She’s always been willing to do that. [Laughter] [ Clapping ] And if you look at the DVD, some
of my kids’ artwork’s in there. So everybody helps. I’m standing between you and dessert I
believe but next week is fire prevention week. So everybody please go home,
check your smoke alarms, and make sure you have a good
fire extinguisher in the kitchen. That’s the number one cause
of fires in the United States. Thank you very much. [ Clapping ]

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