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JBLM and TEAD Firefighters Heat Things Up
by U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Schroeder - May 6, 2015

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TOOELE ARMY DEPOT, Utah – The sound of a soft breeze is overtaken by sirens and horns blaring as firefighters from Tooele Army Depot (TEAD) and Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Departments speed down the street April 10, 2015.

Brakes squeal as two fire trucks come to a sudden stop in front of a house with smoke billowing from the windows. Four firefighters leap from the trucks and throw on their protective equipment. Four other firemen quickly hook up hoses from one truck to another.

A two-man team begins to douse the house using the drafting system from water source to truck to truck. A second two-man team cautiously enters the building searching vigorously as the first team follows not far behind them.

This was the first five minutes as firefighters from JBLM and TEAD Fire Departments react to a training call at the TEAD fire-training house.

Firefighters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Department at JBLM, Wash., observe water drafted from a simulated water source using a two-truck system to reach a fire too far from a fire hydrant or body of water while training with firefighters from the Tooele Army Depot Fire Department during Operation Overblast at Tooele Army Depot, Utah on April 6, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder)
Firefighters from Joint Base Lewis-McChord Fire Department at JBLM, Wash., observe water drafted from a simulated water source using a two-truck system to reach a fire too far from a fire hydrant or body of water while training with firefighters from the Tooele Army Depot Fire Department during Operation Overblast at Tooele Army Depot, Utah on April 6, 2015. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Daniel Schroeder)

“It is awesome to come out here and work with these individuals,” Spc. Guy Bouldin, firefighter with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion. “It is always great to see how other fire departments operate under different circumstances.”

The two departments trained side-by-side teaching each other their operating procedures based on the environments they work in. The first day began with drafting operations.

Drafting is needed when the distance to the water source from the fire cannot be reached using one vehicle. At least two fire trucks are used to cover the distance from the water source to extinguish the fire. The Soldiers had the opportunity to witness drafting at a regular pace as one of the TEAD firefighters was acquiring his certification for the process.

The firemen moved from drafting operations for smothering the fire to rescue operations. This is when the Soldiers enter the building checking for flame outbursts, weak structures and possibly trapped simulated people. Rescue operations also include vehicle accidents and other incidents needing equipment the fire department owns.

The firefighters moved through the smoking building checking for simulated trapped victims constantly on guard for fire bursts and structural weaknesses.

“Using the dummies gives us a chance to practice search and rescue techniques,” said Brian Thomas, firefighter at TEAD Fire Department. “We get in the habit of checking different areas, looking where victims might be. They also help demonstrate how physical it is to pull someone out.”

The final training exercise consisted of Bouldin and the other JBLM firefighters partnering up with a TEAD firefighter to enter the building and retrieve the trapped dummies. The firefighters made the decision to make a second story rescue after hearing the staircase and debris had collapsed.

This scenario provided a more difficult rescue, as they had to pass the 130- and 200-pound training dummies through the second story window.

“This isn't a job for just anyone,” said Bouldin. “It's physically active, serious business and it needs to have serious training. You don't know what you will encounter when you arrive at a call.”

Each firefighter undergoes the same certifications from one location to the next. Even with the receiving the same credentials, all fire departments are different from one another.

“The biggest hurdle for training with other fire departments is learning how they operate,” said Thomas. “The only way to overcome the hurdle is to work with new departments. The Soldiers want to train and learn. At the same time, we refresh our basic skills we often overlook from focusing on specific mission types.”

Bringing the two departments together allowed both groups of firefighters closer together through a common passion.

“Everyone has something to bring to the table, if you are willing to listen,” said Thomas. “Civilian or military, we are still brothers in uniform.”

By U.S. Army Sgt. Daniel Schroeder
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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