Massport Fire Chief and longtime Winthrop resident Bob Donahue retired in 2017, ending a stellar 37-year career with Massport Fire-Rescue. Donahue served as fire chief for the last 15 years and was responsible for fire and emergency services at Boston Logan International Airport, Bedford Hansom Field, Worcester Regional Airport and the Boston Seaport.
Over 600 colleagues, family and friends from throughout metro Boston, the New England region and other parts of the country attended his retirement event at Massport Fire-Rescue Headquarters at Logan Airport.
Under Donahue’s leadership, Massport Fire-Rescue became recognized in the aviation industry as one of the most progressive and innovative airport emergency services worldwide. Chief Donahue and his team designed and developed a number of programs and initiatives to enhance safety and emergency response, not only at Massport’s airports and seaport, but also throughout the Commonwealth and New England Region. Emergency service officials from airports all over the United States, Canada, South America, England, Bermuda, Sweden, Denmark, Ireland and Singapore came to Boston to learn from the Massport team.
Many of Donahue’s programs became national and international models adopted by airports all over the world. Some of his initiatives included: the development of a direct communication system between pilots and ground emergency services to jointly manage an aircraft emergency, water rescue and mass casualty plans, training firefighters and State Police in Autism awareness for emergency responders, designing an emergency medical system, training and equipment for traveling pets. In addition, Donahue and his team developed a robust plan to prevent the import of an infectious disease into the Port of Boston, installed public access defibrillators and conducted community life saver training programs for the workers at Massport’s airports and seaport resulting in over 80 lives saved from cardiac arrest in a 15-year period.
Donahue established a Massport GO TEAM to respond to every major incident at any airport in the United States and Canada to identify lessons learned, which improved Massport and the Commonwealth’s readiness. After analyzing lessons learned from TWA 800 and Value Jet (Miami), Logan was the first airport in the United States to develop and test an airport-based Family Assistance Plan. That plan was activated on Sept. 11, 2001, to care for over 700 family members.
During Chief Donahue’s tenure, Massport’s safety and emergency response programs received numerous awards and recognition form the International Flight Safety Foundation, Airline Pilots Association, Federal Aviation Administration, Centers for Disease Control, National Fire Protection Association, American Association of Airport Executives, U.S. Coast Guard, International Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Working Group, New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport-Hurricane Katrina Relief, among others.
At the Chief’s retirement event, Massport CEO Tom Glynn credited Donahue for his efforts to advance diversity and inclusion and cited him as an extraordinary leader who worked every day to make a difference in people’s lives. Massport Director of Aviation Ed Freni called Donahue the ultimate relationship builder, problem solver and absolute professional He then announced to the crowd that Massport Fire Rescue Headquarters would be named in Donahue’s honor.
Many aviation and public safety leaders made presentations and praised Chief Donahue for his collaborative style. Donahue also received proclamations form the Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo and Sen. Joseph Boncore. Winthrop’s Police Chief Terrance Delahanty and Fire Chief Paul Flanagan were also in attendance.
In his remarked, Chief Donahue noted, “It was an honor to be part of such a great team and an absolute privilege to serve the people of New England and our visitors in the capacity as Massport fire chief.”