STATEWIDE (August 24, 2021) – Senior Deputy State Fire Marshal Melissa Decker of the Southern Regional Office has been named the recipient of the 2020 “James C. Robertson, Deputy State Fire Marshal of the Year” award. “Senior Deputy Decker exemplifies the overall desire and commitment our investigators embrace to ensure the safety of Maryland’s citizens,” stated State Fire Marshal Brian S. Geraci.

Senior Deputy Decker was nominated by her supervisor, Deputy Chief State Fire Marshal John Nelson. Decker was cited for her many achievements in 2020, including 26 initial investigations, six felony arrests, and led as an additional investigator on 62 other fire and explosive investigations.

In 2018 DSFM Decker was selected to be a Task Force Officer (TFO) for the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, Baltimore Field Division, and assists the BATF on work in the field of arson and explosive Investigations along with other federal incidents where needed.

Graduating from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms Accelerant Detection Canine School in December of 2016, DSFM Decker and her partner “Sky” are among 59 ATF-ADC teams throughout the United States. Since graduation, Melissa and her K-9 partner have worked numerous fire scenes throughout Maryland and surrounding states. In 2020, public education changed how agency K-9 handlers could provide in-person demos, so S/DSFM Decker used technology such as Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom to give presentations and demos to the public.

DSFM Decker participated in the Shop with a Cop events in Charles, Calvert, and St. Mary’s County, which were all on consecutive weekends. She also took part in the back-to-school shop with a cop in Calvert and St. Mary’s County.

DSFM Decker agreed to be the point of contact for the agency for the National Fallen Firefighters weekend. She assisted with coordinating the transportation of families to the ceremony from the airport. OSFM volunteers pick up families from across the country at the airport and escort them to the National Fire Academy makes them feel welcome and comfortable as they make their way to the fallen firefighter’s memorial weekend, where their loved ones will be honored.

In August 2020, DSFM Decker was requested to assist with the Arson K-9 block during the Special Agent Training at the ATF National Academy in Glynco, Georgia, and provided instruction on the capabilities of canine teams. 

Decker was nominated with five other Deputy State Fire Marshals from each agency’s regional offices as contenders for the James C. Robertson Award. All five deputies were applauded for their dedication to the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

“Each of these individuals represents their peers with great devotion and distinction,” Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Gregory J. Der said. “Each has gone above and beyond the call of duty. They come to work every day, looking forward to the challenge of making Maryland a safer place to live, work, play, and raise a family.”


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