Fire Chief Mike Mavrogeorge, who was essential in establishing the first fire department for the St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia, has received the Airport Fire Rescue Achievement Award from the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE).
Mavrogeorge, who was hired in April 2008 to establish the first airport fire department, won the recognition by the AAAE for demonstrating “exceptional skills in the workplace by organizing or directing special projects, employing innovative ideas, and proactively promoting safety or public service.” He received the award Saturday, August 7, at the AAAE chapter’s annual conference in Branson, MO.
“I’m honored to receive this recognition by the AAAE on behalf of the Airport’s Fire Department and its dedicated personnel,” Mavrogeorge said. “Establishing the fire department for St. Louis Downtown Airport was essential to protecting the public and the airport, and it was a priority for the Metro Board of Commissioners and Airport Director Bob McDaniel. With the nearly complete new Fire and Emergency Management Facility and the acquisition of a new fire truck, we are all very proud of how far we’ve come in such a short time.”
St. Louis Downtown Airport Director Bob McDaniel nominated Mavrogeorge for the award in recognition of his accomplishments in establishing the fire department, drafting regulations and policies, helping to hire firefighters, overseeing training, participating in design of the station, and working with McDaniel to secure federal grants to build the station and buy a state-of-the-art truck and other equipment. McDaniel said Mavrogeorge organized the fire department and earned certification by the Federal Aviation Administration in just three months, which McDaniel called “record time.”
“Two years ago, despite being the third busiest airport in the state, our airport had no fire protection other than that available from two small structural fire departments in neighboring towns,” McDaniel said. “I hired Chief Mavrogeorge, gave him an empty office and a phone, and he built our fire department from scratch. He worked miracles.”
While waiting for completion of a $4.3 million Fire and Emergency Management Facility, the department has been housed in a small, unheated aircraft hangar without plumbing where a tiny travel trailer holds its communications equipment. The department leased a truck until it could order its first new truck, which was certified for airport fire and rescue activities last fall.
Before coming to St. Louis Downtown Airport, Mavrogeorge served as Deputy Chief of the Department of Public Safety at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport in Mascoutah, IL. He has taught at the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute since 2005, is a member of the State of Missouri Region C Incident Management Team, and serves as a director on the Executive Board of the Illinois Fire Chiefs Association. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, specializing in emergency response policy and coordination, and Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration; in addition to many fire service, medical, and emergency-management certifications. He lives in O’Fallon, IL.
St. Louis Downtown Airport was named the 2009 Reliever Airport of the Year by the Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Aeronautics. The airport is operated by Metro on more than 1,000 acres in Cahokia and Sauget, just three miles from the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis. The airport offers a full-service restaurant and operates an industrial business park also located at the airport. Airport tenants offer complete flight services, including maintenance, repair, and training.