Deployed Firefighters Making a Difference
By Senior Master Sgt. Donald Brockelmann, 132FW/FES UPAR
/ Published January 15, 2010
Sather AB, Baghdad, Iraq -- With little fanfare, 14 members of the 132nd Fighter Wing Fire and Emergency Services, Iowa Air National Guard, kissed their loved ones and said good-byes in the early morning hours of a beautiful September day and were off in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. For some members of the flight this was their first deployment and for a select few this was just another trip to support contingency operations. For the first timers you could sense their excitement and enthusiasm, but for those that had deployed before you could tell that they were dreading the long flights and long waits that lay ahead.
Within a few weeks over fifty ANG firefighters from across the US came together as one team at the 447th Fire Emergency Services based at Sather AB, Baghdad, Iraq. Starting their four month rotation they were instantly involved in: conducting base, equipment and local surrounding awareness training. Some were placed in positions that they wouldn't normally fill on a guard drill weekend and it was immediately evident that they had been well trained and well motivated as they quickly succeeded at these roles.
One of the particular roles that they filled was that of trainers of Iraqi firefighters. It was one of the goals, of the deployed Fire Chief, that this rotation would ensure that those working at the surrounding fire departments would be able to handle their firefighting role when the United States Air Force was no longer present in the area. At any given time, members of the 132FW/FES were training personnel from up to 4 different fire departments, not only from the surrounding Iraqi bases, but to new Iraqi firefighters in Baghdad itself. Their technical and training skills were utilized on base as well as they also provided support to many base agencies through Incident Command and Hazardous Materials training. Fire extinguisher training was given to base personnel and Iraqi Boy Scouts.
Most of the firefighters accomplished personal goals as well, whether it was upgrade training, college courses or personal fitness. Firefighters also filled roles for the group such as acting as the group liaison for the Air Reserve Component Advisors and providing medical assistance to the Army's Combat Support Hospital. All in all you could see the evidence of the great traditions and support of the 132nd FW.