Massport Fire Rescue Chief Robert Donahue honored with ARFF Working Group Outstanding Service Award


BOSTON, 2014-10-2 — /Travel PR News/ — The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) announced the selection of Massport Fire Rescue Chief Robert Donahue as a recipient of the Aircraft Fire Fighting Working Group (ARFF Working Group) Outstanding Service Award on September 30, 2014.

Chief Donahue was selected to receive this honor for his work with the “Wings for Autism” program and his commitment to advancing education for the aviation firefighting community.

“This award is just one example of the level of professionalism and dedication that Chief Donahue brings to his role,” said Massport CEO Thomas P. Glynn.  “Bob works every day to ensure that the safety and security of all who use Massport’s facilities remains a top priority.”

After a challenging travel experience by a Massachusetts family with a child on the spectrum, the Massachusetts Port Authority partnered with the Charles River Autism Center, JetBlue Airways, and the Transportation Security Administration to launch the “Wings for Autism” Program at Boston Logan International Airport.  Since 2011, more than 1,300 families have used this program.

A first of its kind in the nation, the “Wings for Autism” program’s main focus is to serve as a dress rehearsal for families with Autism to become used to the airport environment.  This gives families the opportunity to preplan their airport experience to determine if air travel is possible for their child on the Autism spectrum.

Inspired by the “Wings for Autism” program, a three hour autism awareness training module was constructed for fire, police, TSA, Customs and Border Protection, US Air Marshals, and airline staff at Logan Airport.   The training covers recognition of the spectrum as well as how to approach and communicate with Autistic travelers, how to use visual cues, and how to recognize behaviors that may increase their risk before or during an emergency.

Chief Donahue worked closely with Brad Martin, Deputy Director of Aviation Customer Service for Massport, to develop this training program which focuses primarily on public safety and airline personnel.  Martin has shared this successful program with airline and airport staff across the country while Donahue has spread this training to airport fire chiefs and worked to help develop and leverage a training grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  Currently, emergency services at fourteen airports across the United State have received Autism awareness training based on the Boston model and are now better prepared to help cater to these passengers’ needs.

“It was a pleasure working with Chief Donahue to take our “Wings for Autism” program and develop a front line Autism training for public safety and airline personnel,” said Brad Martin, Deputy Director of Aviation Customer Service.  “At Boston Logan International Airport, we are proud to be the pioneers of this important program that impacts many families who use Logan for air travel.”

The Outstanding Service Award is one of the ARFF Working Group’s most prestigious awards and can only be requested and bestowed by the Chairman and/or the Board of Directors.

“Chief Donahue is one of the most respected airport fire chiefs globally,” said David Whitaker, Chairman of the ARFF Working Group.  “His work at Massport has been instrumental in many of the training programs used throughout our industry today, and the Autism awareness training program has now been shared and taught at dozens of airports.  I myself have a family member with autism and truly understand the importance of this program.”

The award was presented to Chief Donahue at the ARFF Working Group Annual Conference and Educational Symposium on September 30, 2014 in Galveston, Texas.

Donahue, a resident of Winthrop, Massachusetts, is a 34 year veteran of the Massport Fire Department where he has served as chief for past 12 years.

Follow Massport on Facebook at and as well as on Twitter at,, and

About Massport 
The Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport) owns and operates Boston Logan International Airport, public terminals in the Port of Boston, Hanscom Field, and Worcester Regional Airport. Massport is a financially self-sustaining public authority whose premier transportation facilities generate more than $8 billion annually, and enhance and enable economic growth and vitality in New England. No state tax dollars are used to fund operations or capital improvements at Massport facilities. For more information please visit


Massport Fire Rescue Chief Robert Donahue honored with ARFF Working Group Outstanding Service Award

Massport Fire Rescue Chief Robert Donahue honored with ARFF Working Group Outstanding Service Award