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  1. #1
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    Default Army eliminating Fire training as mos?

    My son in Iraq informed me of this. Is this for real?


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    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    This rumor rears it's ugly head every few years and has always been prven false.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

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    where is he getting this info from I would like to know? The Army just deployed a few of there firefighting detachments. The Army is also depolying more next year to replace the ones that are there now. The Army is going to change the MOS number from 21m to 12M from what I have been told. You will always have Army firefighters you can't deploy civilian FF and they won't go out side the gates of the base in a war zone. At one time the Army did cut down the number of deployable active FF units down to two. In 2003 they realized oh $#*@!!! we dont have enough active duty FF to go down range so in 2005 they made around 8 more actvie duty FF detachments. The Army is not going to invest millions of dollars in new TFFT's and HEWATT's (army fire trucks) from Pierce to turn around and get rid of the MOS. I don't see them getting rid of this MOS. Cut back maybe? People have been saying for years that this MOS is going away. Well all I can say is we are still here. There have been many threds posted about this very topic and no one can verify their info or how they got their info on the Army getting rid of the MOS. Until they can give hard facts or say where they got their info. Far as I see it is all rumors.
    Last edited by panthers; 10-31-2009 at 04:12 AM.

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    I think the "rumors" about eliminating military firefighters, may come from the tendency of the military to have contractors perform certain services at military bases.

    When I did a deployment to Kosovo around 10 years ago, Camp Bondsteel had nearly every service on that installation done by military contractors (Root & Kellog???), except firefighting. Right before I deployed back to CONUS, there was supposed to be a transition to replace the Army 51M firefighters with a contract service.

    After I returned to CONUS from Desert Storm, I noticed that alot more military services (food service, etc.) were being changed from military service to civilian contractors. In the mid-1990's there was BRAC and a general drawdown of the military and I believe that is where the contract services started to get "popular" with the military.
    Last edited by FIRE117; 10-31-2009 at 08:47 PM. Reason: Spelling

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIRE117 View Post
    I think the "rumors" about eliminating military firefighters, may come from the tendency of the military to have contractors perform certain services at military bases.

    When I did a deployment to Kosovo around 10 years ago, Camp Bondsteel had nearly every service on that installation done by military contractors (Root & Kellog???), except firefighting. Right before I deployed back to CONUS, there was supposed to be a transition to replace the Army 51M firefighters with a contract service.

    After I returned to CONUS from Desert Storm, I noticed that alot more military services (food service, etc.) were being changed from military service to civilian contractors. In the mid-1990's there was BRAC and a general drawdown of the military and I believe that is where the contract services started to get "popular" with the military.
    i hate contract firefighters... instead of me being able to deploy as crash crew i had to fight for an IA billet (i loved my tour, but would have loved to not have to go around my command to G1 to get a deployment). military contracting makes no damn sense, lets train our military to do a job and then pay someone else a ridiculous amount of money to do it for them.

    /rant

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Just curious, but shouldn't the military be training on military things?

    Quite obviously, fire fighting is not a military thing, as it's done by non-military people all day every day.

    Just sayin...
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Just curious, but shouldn't the military be training on military things?

    Quite obviously, fire fighting is not a military thing, as it's done by non-military people all day every day.

    Just sayin...
    Bones,

    A legitimate question, and I believe there is a legitimate answer.

    Logistics is the primary limiting factor for any military deployment. We have to be able to support and maintain the troops in combat, and the the tooth to tail ratio (combat troops to support troops) of a modern military unit is about 1-10. As an example, you could argue that the tank mechanic's job isn't necessarily "military", but we wouldn't get very far if we didn't have them right there with us. There is also a cross training effect on manpower-military personnel can be used outside their primary occupational field and work longer hours, which reduces the number of total personnel and the size of the bases and overall logistical effort (kinda like Fire/EMS).

    There are some very good reasons why it is more effective to use military personnel than contractors, but political factors (troop levels)have forced us to accept the contracting monster. As a short history lesson, look up the battle for Wake Island. The attack on Wake caught over 1000 civilian workers on the base, and while many volunteered to assist in the defense, the majority hid out, hoarded supplies, and created a monstrous burden for the Marine defenders, who were less than half their number. This was the origin of the Navy SeaBees in WWII. If you study the battle, imagine what tripling the number of defenders would have done for the outcome.

    Some of the issues with contractors as a whole, not just FFs. For any of you contractors who read this, nothing personal. I've been to Iraq and seen you at work, and most of you are good folks, but hamstrung by government and company policies.

    1. If you ever have a "enemy in the wire" moment, you now have that many more unarmed people to protect, who also can't be counted on to repel the attack.
    2. A service member can be forced to work until they drop-no contract restrictions, no shift premium, etc.
    3. The service member can pull duty that the contractor can't - fill in on a convoy, guard duty, etc. The "military things".
    4. The service member costs about 50% of the contractor.
    5. Security clearances
    6. Service members are much more likely to go above and beyond to support the mission than a contractor-while the individual employee may be willing, the company will deny him the ability to do so.
    7. Service members can be transferred anywhere at the drop of a hat-contractors can't.
    8. Contractors can quit at any time and go home. PFC Schmuck can't.
    9. Contractors require far more creature comforts than military personnel-not that we don't enjoy them too, but they are not mandated in our contract.
    10. Military personnel in a combat zone get one 2 week (+travel time) leave during their 1 year tour. Contractors receive 2 weeks (+travel time) every 3 months. Approx 20% of the contract crew is on leave at any one time.
    11. Contract companies often require far more manpower for a given task than a military unit will use-see #2, #6, and #10-which increases the logistical footprint and creature comforts required-see #9-which then requires more manpower to maintain-see #2, #6 and #10 (again!!)
    12. Dissatisfaction and low morale among the military personnel because they are being cheated of the opportunity to use their MOS training for the real thing.
    13. The availability of contract positions performing the job the military trained you for with all the bennies mentioned above (higher pay, reduced hours, leaves, etc) reduces reenlistments/retention. Xe/Blackwater was paying SEALS 3-4 times their annual military pay, which then prompted reenlistment bonuses to skyrocket to almost $150,000. This is a cost to contracting that is rarely mentioned.
    14. Contractors (at least FFs) don't leave the base for security/safety reasons. So what happens when you have to extricate a service member from a IED'd vehicle? They send a military FF-who is otherwise engaged 90% of the time working for the camp commandant (ie working party painting rocks to stay busy) because the contractor is doing his real job. This also applies to many of the other contracted jobs.
    15. Contract companies screw over the people who work for them when they are injured/killed in the line of duty. They also unilaterally cut working hours and wages when their profits drop. At least we have the VA, crappy as it is.
    Last edited by gunnyv; 11-19-2009 at 11:30 AM. Reason: Grammar

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Thanks Gunnyv, great answer.

    I think John Wayne (but not sure) starred in a movie about the Wake Island event. Got me interested enough to do some reading about it.

    Past member of my Department was a "SeaBee". An interesting concept.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    I just enlisted today as a firefighter for the CA NG. I can confirm the MOS has changed to 12m and that we do exist

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    Gunny,
    don't want to start a flame, but i'd really like to discuss some of these points. As someone that's been over there as both military and as a contractor, i've got a view on both sides of the story:
    1. You are correct on this. Many of the contractors will not be able to fight. However, you should know this, the action of guarding the base is usually left up to the Ugandans, especially in Iraq. Now if the base was over ran, hopefully the multitude of armed military combatants will hold down the fort. The civvies get paid for the risk, they know it and accept it.
    2. Most fire fighters over there work 16 hour days. if you can't get most of your daily shift done work in 16 hours, you need to take some Covey classes. Again having been over as military as well, i can tell you that there is a lot of down time on that end of the spectrum.
    3. Again, a little off the mark here. Most of the people doing guard duty are civvies. This frees up the military to actually do their jobs. Many contractors also perform convoy duties as well. Armor, EDOT, XE, Ect.
    4. I actually thought the same thing. But factor in health insurance, retirement, training time. The government pays for none of this on the contract end. The folks come in pre trained and ready to go. In the long run i think you'll find the government is actually saving money on the process. Ask someone that works in military contracting and they will more than likely say the same thing.
    5.Everyone moving into Iraq is required to obtain a background check, especially fire fighters working on the flightline, who are required to obtain a clearance comparable to a secret. TS/SCI/TK is not the sole providence of the military, many contractors have a clearance.
    6. I can only speak for the company i worked for, but we were encouraged to go above and beyond. Many times the Contracting Officer would enquire as to what we did to go above and beyond the contract. These actions were reported up favorably.
    7. That's absolutely incorrect. In my two years in Iraq i went to 7 bases, many times on short notice, per the need of the customer.
    8. Sure they can quit, but the tax man will have their butt.
    9. Off the mark again. I've lived in a Tent with 20 other guys, and i've lived in a wet CHU during my times over there. Most contractors share the same level of housing the military do, and the customer usually gets the housing first. Nowhere have i ever read a contract that stated any stipulations about housing other than it be present.
    10.Most contractors will get about 10 days every 120 days. The manning levels are tracked and reported to the military contracting official. Most major areas (Fire, DFAC, Engineering) cannot drop below acceptable levels. Personnel are required to plan leave around these numbers. This is very important in the fire department.
    11. I'm not a logistics guy, so i can't speak on this one. Many of the mayor cell meetings i've attended speak to the opposite though. Many of the creature comforts are demanded buy the military, not the other way around. Better Movies at the Haji shop, Better Roads, Better stuff at the MWR, Better stuff at AAFES, ect. As to the ability to perform the work, many of the individuals working over there are prior military, and work at about the same rate, take that statement as you will.
    12. I'm up the air about this one. Sure they are not able to flip burgers, or fight some fires, but the civvies open up the military to actually /do/ their job in my opinion. Sure the CE guy isn't building roads on base, but he's outside the wire laying concrete. To me that is more of a military job, and is facilitated by the presence of contractors.
    13. To me that is a great example of capitalism and being paid for a rare skill. I have no issue with the military or the contract world competing for that skills set.
    14. Again, done both on this one. Sure the contractors wouldn't be flying on 60's out to a crash site, but they will go a little out the gate with an escort. Many of convoy teams have their own medic (obviously) and are well, well trained on extrication procedures with respect to MRAPS, HUMVEE's, Ect. on a side note, when i was there as military, i /never/ left the gate to perform extrication on a vehicle. It happens sure, but the guys on the convoys usually take care of their own, and fly out the wounded.
    15. Most contracted personnel have at least a 250,000 plan if killed. You can bump that up if you want, but you have to pay for it. Again, this is a cost saving action on the government's part. The individual pays for the insurance, not the government.

    This is not intended to be a flame or argument, please don't take it as such. I just wanted to clarify a couple of things from having been over their on both sides of the argument.
    Thanks

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Pete,

    No offense taken. However, you zeroed in on the FF and security contractors, who, IMO, are the best of the bunch. I'm sure location and time period also play into both of our experiences. I worked with plenty of other contractors, especially those working for State and KBR, that colored my opinions.

    As for freeing us up for military duties, that is part of the problem. Many of the jobs that have been contracted have military personnel who are trained and capable of doing them. I, for example am a 7051 ARFF Marine. Since that job is contracted out, I spent my OIF tour in Civil Affairs. Most of the junior Marines ended up on guard duty. So the government spent the money to train us to do a job, and then deprived us of the opportunity, which seriously disappointed us. Many then left the service to join the contractor so they could do the job the gov't trained them for, and make more money too. Not a good bargain for the gov't.

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    I'll agree that KBR is pretty much crap.
    However, most of the Marine bases (although they are gone now) I'm familiar with had both contract and Corps Fire Protection. The Marines handled the flightline and the contractors dealt with the structural side.
    So they were doing their jobs for the most part.

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peterbound View Post
    I'll agree that KBR is pretty much crap.
    However, most of the Marine bases (although they are gone now) I'm familiar with had both contract and Corps Fire Protection. The Marines handled the flightline and the contractors dealt with the structural side.
    So they were doing their jobs for the most part.
    While I was there (2008-2009) the Marines only handled the outlying FOBs/FARPs. Al Asad and TQ had civilians running Crash, USMC ARFF was for TRAP only. One whole ARFF platoon was was broken up and used as security for TQ. My previous Squadron deployed to Djibouti and pulled security there.

    And if you agree KBR was crap, you should have seen the ridiculousness of the State Dept folks. $200-350K a year, reluctant to share a double-wide trailer or leave the FOB while the Marines lived 4-8 to a SWA hut. We actually had one demand a Marine Cpl provide him with new bedding, because he didn't think he should have to spend his own money. Smart Cpl reported it to the Gunny, who promptly told Mr Big Shot to pound sand and hoof his ***** to the PX.

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    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    From my POV in DC, I see contracting on the way out for future conflicts, and a slow but eventual return to an organic support capability. IF the military does not see this way soon themselves, Congress will be forcing it back on them. Cooks, firefighters, transportation/logistics, mechanics and may be even the good ole' fashion military barber will be making a return in numbers. It is not only the KBR/WSI guys that are going to be giving the job back, but the massive amount of indigenous population workers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ridebmxnc View Post
    i hate contract firefighters... instead of me being able to deploy as crash crew i had to fight for an IA billet (i loved my tour, but would have loved to not have to go around my command to G1 to get a deployment). military contracting makes no damn sense, lets train our military to do a job and then pay someone else a ridiculous amount of money to do it for them.

    /rant
    Hate is a strong word. Many men and women that retire with the Army move over to the civilian side. You hate your fellow soldiers? You too may be one of them one day..

    Firefighting is not related to military.

    Speaking of paying ridiculous amounts of money, I believe that the Army spends way too much money friviosuly and have proof. We get 1,065 per month just for housing. Our house payment is in the 600's. Is that right?

    I believe the brass has considered all of your thoughts already. I am sure it has been six sigma'd to death by now and has proven otherwise.

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    Forum Member DennisTheMenace's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParaStorm5 View Post
    Hate is a strong word. Many men and women that retire with the Army move over to the civilian side. You hate your fellow soldiers? You too may be one of them one day..

    Firefighting is not related to military.

    Speaking of paying ridiculous amounts of money, I believe that the Army spends way too much money friviosuly and have proof. We get 1,065 per month just for housing. Our house payment is in the 600's. Is that right?

    I believe the brass has considered all of your thoughts already. I am sure it has been six sigma'd to death by now and has proven otherwise.
    If your house payment was 1200, would they give you an extra 135 a month? No. You get trewarded with a bonus for being smart with finding the home you did. Use the extra for home improvements.

    And Firefighting is very related to the military when aircraft and tent cities are involved in foreign lands. It is dangerous that we are contracting out so many services. What happens when we deploy to a location with out a population that can support our mission? We are losing our ability to be self-sustanable, and it might bite us in the butt very soon.

    As for the retired and veteran contractors, I don't want to dis them. However, many of the guys at the tops of those corporations worked to create the very systems they are now profiting from. There are some savings from contracting, but most of the time we are spending far more than it would cost to just have a service member do the task while overseas. Of course that means additional overhead during peace, but that is the cost of preparedness. Sort of like a million dollar firetruck sitting in the bay 95% of its life.
    Last edited by DennisTheMenace; 03-11-2010 at 01:15 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nyckftbl View Post
    LOL....dont you people have anything else to do besides b*tch about our b*tching?

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ParaStorm5 View Post
    Speaking of paying ridiculous amounts of money, I believe that the Army spends way too much money friviosuly and have proof. We get 1,065 per month just for housing. Our house payment is in the 600's. Is that right?
    BAH is based on a certain standard of living, ie, apt for single, townhouse for enlisted with families, home of certain size for officers with families, etc. The gov't determines the amount by surveying rental conditions in each area, so it's not as if they pick the number out of the air. Also consider that BAH is supposed to cover utilities, taxes, and insurance, which you would not need if you were living in barracks. You found a great deal on a house, or chose to live below your means. Congratulations.

    Firefighting is related to the military. Simple fact, a contractor is defenseless in a combat zone, a military firefighter is not. Ever heard of classified materials? How about equipment accountability? Do you want just anyone walking through a military workspace? Ever heard of hot refueling or munitions attached to a/c when they crash?

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    Gunny,
    Are we talking civvies in general, or Fire Fighters specifically?
    True the fire fighters are not armed, although when i was AF deployed i never really had my m-16 on me when i was on duty either.

    Any of the contractors stationed at a base with a hot spot (only the Marines require it, so i can see why you bring it up) will have ARFF experience, and more than likely will be prior military (usually Marines or AF) so the nature of the mission and the danger therein would not be lost on them.

    I will again agree with you that many of the fat, nasty, KBR cats over there have no reason to be in the field (if for no other reason than serious health concerns due to their weight/age), but the Fire Protection mission can easily be accomplished by the contracting system.

    Good points brought up, but i have to respectfully disagree that the job over yonder can only be accomplished by military personnel.

    look forward to your reply
    -pete

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    Forum Member gunnyv's Avatar
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    Pete,

    I did not deal specifically with the contract FFs overseas, beyond fire inspections, socializing, and buying some of their swag. I never said firefighting can't be done by contractors, only that, for the reasons I've given, that I feel it is wrong and inefficient. I saw enough garbage from the contracting monster to convince me it is a bad idea. Dealing with KBR on electrical issues was a special kind of hell in particular, which has been well documented. I heard "that's beyond the scope of our contract" many times, and in some cases it forced us to do work that we were ill equipped for to accomplish the mission.

    I will, again, reiterate the self defense argument. While I can't speak for the USAF, I know the Marine ARFF guys always have weapons on hand. We can't count on our adversaries being incapable of launching an operation of more than platoon size forever. One day we will have a "gooks in the wire" moment and a bunch of unarmed contractors will die, and Marines, soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen will also die trying to protect their unarmed a**es.

    My beef is not with the contract workers, especially the FFs and some others who are veterans, they are good people trying to do a job. It is with a system that trains us to do a job and then contracts it out in favor of unarmed civilians in a combat zone.

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    Interesting thread. When I was active duty 7051 over 15 years ago, our staffing and equipment was just enough to fulfill the NAVAIR requirements to begin air operations at an expeditionary airfield. Supported the whole expeditionary self-sufficient for 30-days paradigm. I don't think it ever occurred to any of us that the MOS would lead to providing full FD services in a garrison environment during a prolonged campaign. If I remember right, the USAF had their Red Horse/Prime Beef firefighting elements that were set up in a similar manner - rapidly deployable with just enough to get air ops going.

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