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Thread: FFing in Iraq?

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    Default FFing in Iraq?

    Are any of you familiar w/the fact that Wackenhut is hiring FF for military bases over in Iraq? If so, do you have any info you could share? I am quite intrigued by the idea; would really love to hear if anyone has any personal insight they could add. Feel free to e-mail if you do: jdlastra@hotmail.com
    Thanks.
    Last edited by jdl123; 07-15-2004 at 03:30 AM.


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    Good money if you don't mind the environment and dodging mortars/rockets periodically. Not much for actual firefighting though. You'll get a few tents burn every now and then, maybe a few MVA's. Not sure abour responding off post - Army wise, we did. Don't know about the contractors though.

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    Thanks for the responses.
    Tiredoldman,
    Are the contractors and the military FF segregated? How do the military guys feel about the contractors?
    Is EMS part of the contractors duties?
    Thanks!!

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    I was contacted by Kellogg, Brown, & Root, which is Halliburton... I was told that pay was around $77,000 a year, which is tax free if you stay overseas for 330 out of 365 days in the year. I'd also get 4 - 1 week periods to come home. They said that there wouldn't be any oil pit fires or anything, I would just be on an army camp and not allowed to leave the camp. That's about all I remember - Wackenhut is probably very similar.

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    Question

    I would be interested in doing this. I sent my resume to Wackenhut, what other companies have contracts and are hiring for fire fighters in Iraq? Who should I contact? Thanks.

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    jdl123

    No, you're not segregated. As soon as there were enough contractors, the military folks got to go home. (unless they were assigned other jobs - not firefighting related). On the base I was at, there were both Army and Air Force fire personnel there. The AF did the aircraft (except helicopters) and the Army did the structures and rotary wing. We backed each other up when needed and of course the closest station went first, regardless of service. As far as the Army guys, we were all happy as he!! when the contractors started showing up....because we could LEAVE.

    Last I was told, there may be a possibility of EMS suties..but there were paramedics already working on our base before I left. They were, however, ONLY taking care of KBR contractors. Wackenhut has been subcontracted by KBR, and they are the only contract fire protection folk over there. Like I said..the money's great. I was offered the A/C job, and was told I would be able to pay my house off in a year. When I said "you don't know how much I paid for my house" the reply was........"doesn't matter."

    Rocket and mortar attacks were getting to be a daily occurrence. I don't want to give up too much about my former base, but you are living in tents or "mobile home" type structures. These WILL NOT stop incoming rounds. I lived in an old Iraqi fire station since I was on duty 24/7 which was re-inforced concrete. If I didn't have a family, I'd be back there because I feel as if I didn't "finish" what was started. I say again.......if you have a FAMILY..consider this employment opportunity very carefully.

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    I am currently working for WSI at a base in Iraq. Everything that TIREDOLDMAN has said has been right on target. This job is not for everyone. You will only get to see your family every four months when you get a ten day R&R. Most guys are taking their R&R outside of the U.S. because we're only allowed to have 30 days in the U.S. during our first year. If more than thirty days are spent in the U.S. your income becomes taxable.
    I will try to answer any questions, just post them on the site.

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    Rescue 542,
    How long have you been there? How long do you plan on staying (and WSI for that matter?!). Hows the equipment? Training? Are you allowed to leave the base? Schedule? Would you do it again? Thanks...

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    rescue542........ keep us all posted on how things are over there......

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    Facinating, truely so.

    For those that are thinking of taking the plunge, just some food fo though, check out all the photo pages.

    http://homepage.mac.com/ninodust/PhotoAlbum19.html

    I am very interested in what apparatus, equipment, what sort of fires, etc...

    So, here come the tons of questions rescue542 and Tiredoldman???


    - What sort of apparatus did the Iraqies have before US intervention. All I have ever seen was Toyota pickups, what did they have for apparatus.

    - What do they have now. I talked to a Rep from Amercian LaFrance, they were trying to get a bid to build something like 400 new apparatus for Iraq, Uncle Sams treat.

    - What PPE so you guys use? What is the military issue for the different branches (IIRC Navy is Scott, Air force is Interspiro, Army and Marines?)? IE what turnouts, what SCBA, etc... Do the private contractors try to keep compatable with the Military.

    - Do the people "Like" the firefighters?

    - Do you work with any native firefighters? What was it like for them before? Now? Do they see an improvement? Have they seen backdraft....

    - Are Boots and Coots or the Legend Red Adair fire Co.s in country to hand wild wells and blow outs/sabotage?

    - How many fires are there? What types? Do you get called for damage control for after battles, IE fires started by a firefight(with guns mind you).

    Anything else of interest?

    Thanks!
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

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    I've been here for about two months, and plan on staying for at least my one year contract. Once I complete my contract I will have to see how things are going.
    Currently we are awaiting the arrival of our trucks which are being built by Pierce. The first trucks are due to arrive next month. Our PPE is supposed to arrive this week.
    The military firefighters are still providing the fire suppression and we are currently doing fire prevention and fire inspections. We will start to assume the emergency response role within the next couple of months. This transition will be accomplished through a gradual transfer of duties from the military to us. We will be responsible for structural firefighting, ARFF, EMS first response, vertical rescue, confined space rescue, trench rescue, vehicle extrication, water rescue, fire inspections, fire prevention, plan review for fire code, and other emergencies.
    We will be conducting a lot of training. The training will all be IFSAC accredited and begin in the fall.
    Once we assume the emergency responsibilities from the military we will be tasked to go off the base to respond as needed by the military. We will not be providing or receiving mutual aid at this time. This looks to provide a challenge as we have to deal with any incidents with what we have, there is no additional help coming.
    We are on duty from 0800 hours to 2000 hours. During this time we do our training, inspections, standbys, physical conditioning, and house duties. From 2000 hours to 0800 hours we are on call for emergencies.
    I'll try to answer the other questions later today, I have to go tend to some duties.

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    I can answer the questions from the Army side...but be warned, I'm a little bitter about some things....


    What sort of apparatus did the Iraqies have before US intervention. All I have ever seen was Toyota pickups, what did they have for apparatus

    A- Most places had old Chinese or Europeon style apparatus. Most of it was junk, and very poorly equipped. No bunker gear, no SCBA. Some cities had some decent trucks, but those areas were also "favored" by Saddam and were taken care of better than others.

    What do they have now. I talked to a Rep from Amercian LaFrance, they were trying to get a bid to build something like 400 new apparatus for Iraq, Uncle Sams treat.

    A- Apparatus from the US would be an INCREDIBLE MISTAKE to give to the Iraqis. It would probably be targeted and would be too big for some of the areas. I think that contract is for the contract fire protection-maybe rescue can shed some light on that. When I was still there, I was involved with the process of re-building some of the local departments in our A/O. There were 300 fire trucks made in Jordan and the UAE that were purchased and distributed to certain areas. The stories about the Army helping Iraqi fire departments (as seen on FH.com) are only somewhat true. Many local areas were doing this on thier own, as such was the case with my higher command (4th Infantry, 3rd BCT). They asked us firefighters to help them re-equip the local FDs. We did. And we did it so well that those big shots in Baghdad SHUT US DOWN. Unfortunately, we were shut down and only got to help 1 town. I had been to three other cities, and promises were made, then broken. SO, it burns my ***** slightly when I read some of the stories about Iraq on here. We had a good team, and they were doing excellent work, but we were ahead of everybody else, and it made the big shots look bad. END OF RANT.



    What PPE so you guys use? What is the military issue for the different branches (IIRC Navy is Scott, Air force is Interspiro, Army and Marines?)? IE what turnouts, what SCBA, etc... Do the private contractors try to keep compatable with the Military.

    A- Army and AF uses Morning Pride proximity gear, Interspiro SCBA and ther Army bought us Globe strucutral gear also. AF just used ARFF gear.



    Do the people "Like" the firefighters

    A- if your talking about the Army folk...yes. Depending on if were doing a fire inspection or extricating them from a smashed up 5-ton. As far as Iraqi folk....not really. The Iraqi firefighters in one town asked if they could be issued AK-47's to defend themselves and thier truck when responding to a fire. I thought...what the he11??......then I actually witnessed looting of a fire station while they were out on a call. I was also told that equipment has been stolen right off the trucks and emergency scenes. As far as Iraqi firefighters, personality wise, they're not much different from us. Some care about what they do, some are there 'cause it's a job.




    Do you work with any native firefighters? What was it like for them before? Now? Do they see an improvement? Have they seen backdraft

    A- Native firefighters - yes, but not in a firefighting way. Rebuilding and re-equipping. There was a place right off base that was the old military housing area for my base. They had firefighters and a truck (a NICE truck). Plans were made for automatic aid with them, but nothing ever happened Things before were pretty barren. Poor or no equipment, NO PAY or intermittent pay ($20 a month now!) Have they seen backdraft??????? Your joking right?.



    Are Boots and Coots or the Legend Red Adair fire Co.s in country to hand wild wells and blow outs/sabotage?

    A- Don't know...never saw them

    How many fires are there? What types? Do you get called for damage control for after battles, IE fires started by a firefight(with guns mind you).

    A-Fires are few. Most of the construction is re-inforced concrete, and the Army pushes prevention heavily. Tents however, make a pretty good fire display. As far as battle damage, yes we were. Never thought I'd be involved in a vehicle extrication wearing a ballistic vest and having some very "interesting" looking people setting up a perimeter around the scene. Now that all the "mobile homes" are in place, I would bet that fire calls will go up. Most of our stuff was medical response, EOD standbys (always a good time), and HAZMAT. Iraq is hazmat he11.

    Rescue 542 - good luck over there.

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    Originally posted by Tiredoldman
    I can answer the questions from the Army side...but be warned, I'm a little bitter about some things....


    What sort of apparatus did the Iraqies have before US intervention. All I have ever seen was Toyota pickups, what did they have for apparatus

    A- Most places had old Chinese or Europeon style apparatus. Most of it was junk, and very poorly equipped. No bunker gear, no SCBA. Some cities had some decent trucks, but those areas were also "favored" by Saddam and were taken care of better than others.
    I see, so mostly crap.

    How about the water supply, desert after all.

    IIRC I remember seeing a newsbite that even Bagdad had horrible utilities, very poor water supply, sewage in the streets.


    What do they have now. I talked to a Rep from Amercian LaFrance, they were trying to get a bid to build something like 400 new apparatus for Iraq, Uncle Sams treat.

    A- Apparatus from the US would be an INCREDIBLE MISTAKE to give to the Iraqis. It would probably be targeted and would be too big for some of the areas. I think that contract is for the contract fire protection-maybe rescue can shed some light on that. When I was still there, I was involved with the process of re-building some of the local departments in our A/O. There were 300 fire trucks made in Jordan and the UAE that were purchased and distributed to certain areas. The stories about the Army helping Iraqi fire departments (as seen on FH.com) are only somewhat true. Many local areas were doing this on thier own, as such was the case with my higher command (4th Infantry, 3rd BCT). They asked us firefighters to help them re-equip the local FDs. We did. And we did it so well that those big shots in Baghdad SHUT US DOWN. Unfortunately, we were shut down and only got to help 1 town. I had been to three other cities, and promises were made, then broken. SO, it burns my ***** slightly when I read some of the stories about Iraq on here. We had a good team, and they were doing excellent work, but we were ahead of everybody else, and it made the big shots look bad. END OF RANT.
    I could have swore he was talking about build trucks to supply to the FDs over there, but I could be mistaken.

    That sucks about the aid you were giving and resulting BS you got.

    What PPE so you guys use? What is the military issue for the different branches (IIRC Navy is Scott, Air force is Interspiro, Army and Marines?)? IE what turnouts, what SCBA, etc... Do the private contractors try to keep compatable with the Military.

    A- Army and AF uses Morning Pride proximity gear, Interspiro SCBA and ther Army bought us Globe strucutral gear also. AF just used ARFF gear.
    What fire apparatus does the US military have over there?

    The Pierce TFFT? Those are awsome.

    Do the people "Like" the firefighters

    A- if your talking about the Army folk...yes. Depending on if were doing a fire inspection or extricating them from a smashed up 5-ton. As far as Iraqi folk....not really. The Iraqi firefighters in one town asked if they could be issued AK-47's to defend themselves and thier truck when responding to a fire. I thought...what the he11??......then I actually witnessed looting of a fire station while they were out on a call. I was also told that equipment has been stolen right off the trucks and emergency scenes. As far as Iraqi firefighters, personality wise, they're not much different from us. Some care about what they do, some are there 'cause it's a job.
    OMG, that very bad situation...

    Almost like a LA Riot.

    Seriously, MGs mounted on the roof of the truck in place of the master stream may be a good idea.

    Do you work with any native firefighters? What was it like for them before? Now? Do they see an improvement? Have they seen backdraft

    A- Native firefighters - yes, but not in a firefighting way. Rebuilding and re-equipping. There was a place right off base that was the old military housing area for my base. They had firefighters and a truck (a NICE truck). Plans were made for automatic aid with them, but nothing ever happened Things before were pretty barren. Poor or no equipment, NO PAY or intermittent pay ($20 a month now!) Have they seen backdraft??????? Your joking right?.
    Yes, I was joking about Backdraft. But hey, maybe they will be inspired if they watch it...or maybe they will pick up very very bad habits.

    How many fires are there? What types? Do you get called for damage control for after battles, IE fires started by a firefight(with guns mind you).

    A-Fires are few. Most of the construction is re-inforced concrete, and the Army pushes prevention heavily. Tents however, make a pretty good fire display. As far as battle damage, yes we were. Never thought I'd be involved in a vehicle extrication wearing a ballistic vest and having some very "interesting" looking people setting up a perimeter around the scene. Now that all the "mobile homes" are in place, I would bet that fire calls will go up. Most of our stuff was medical response, EOD standbys (always a good time), and HAZMAT. Iraq is hazmat he11.

    Rescue 542 - good luck over there.
    Did you ever have to fight a fire involving an Abrams or Bradly? I can just imagine how scary that would be with ammo cooking off.

    Do mortar rounds light up the tents easily?

    Have you every been caught in a firefight while fighting fire? That would be a realy realy F'd up situation.

    At least it sounds like the building construction is favorable to fire containment.

    Are there a lot of MVAs with the US forces? I would imagine that the military vehicles are pretty sturdy, what rescue tools do you use?

    Ho friggin hot is it? Are PPE rule relaxed to help with colling off?

    What about rehab? How do you keep hydrated in that heat?

    When you are sent out on a call do you have an armed escort?

    Thanks for the info, to me this is one of the most facinating firefighting environments ever.
    -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
    -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

    -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

    -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.

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    Army uses a truck called the 2500L made by Amertek (no longer in business) it's a piece of crap, and has injured and killed people.

    The TFFT is going to be a lemon also. I can't wait until the Iraqi dust gets into the foam and electrical systems. Army shoudl take a lesson from the AF and buy proper apparatus for the job instead of trying to comine everything into one.

    No water supply, all tankers.

    Don't laugh about crew served weapons on fire trucks. It was considered. We carried M-16A2's

    Bradley and Tanks burned. If there wasn't any ammo cooking off, we doused it with a roof turret. If there was, well, it just burned.

    Mortar round don't really light up anything. There's no big fire ball, just shrapnell and crap flying everywhere.

    Attacked while firefighting? - yes

    Lots of MVA's? - Yes - we use holmatro and hurst equipment

    Highest temp I recorded was 147 degrees - PPE was enforced PLUS if you were off base you had a ballistic vest on over you coat. Work 10 minutes, then your done. This is why all 40 some firefighters were on 24/7. Prehydrate, and eat properly, and we had only 2 heat casualties. PLus, everyone got plenty of IV practice.

    Armed escorts - sometimes. We're still in the Army, and the drivers, Asst Chiefs, and our rescue squad carried weapons and maintianed security when none was available. Most of the time, we had good support from the MP's. For a while, the FD developed our own security team. These were guys who were cops or ex-infantry who joined our unit.

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    Has there been any firefighters killed in Iraq since the war began?

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    We finally got our PPE today. It is Quest Millenium turnout gear, with Firewalker boots and a Cairns 1010 helmet. Our BAs our going to be MSA, but we don't know when they're coming. Since the military uses Interspiro our masks will not work on their BAs. So as soon as the BAs arrive we will start riding with the military. As of right now it is still just fire inspections.
    In the time I've been here there have been about 15 fires. Three of which were caused by incoming mortars hitting vehicles. Just about daily we have mortar attacks. The other fires were either vehicle fires or electrical in nature. The one day a bradley started on fire containing quite a bit of ammo. A perimeter was set up and it was hit with a deck gun until the ammo stopped going off. The wiring around here is nothing like it is in the U.S. It is all 220 volt and very poorly wired. A lot of the wire is not rated for the same voltage as the breakers, so the breaker doesn't trip even though the wire is red hot. We've also had a lot of hazmat calls due to all of the hazardous materials being constantly shipped everywhere, such as chlorine, etc.
    It is real interesting because this base is like a city of 60,000 people and the fire department is just being added in now. This means that the water system needs to be designed, including the location of hydrants. Sure is nice to have input as to where the hydrants are going to go instead of having to deal with wherever they may be. We also have to oversee and standby for confined space entries just about every day, which is interesting in 130 degree weather wearing a ballistic vest and helmet. The electricians and plumbers have a lot of work to do in underground vaults to fix all the infastructure problems.
    We have very little contact with the Iraqi people. The only Iraqis we speak with are the ones who come on base to work. They help with the maintenance and cleanup activities.
    As contract firefighters we don't get to carry weapons. If we go anywhere that requires security an armed escort is provided by the military. We've been working closely with the military and evryone helps each other.

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    Rescue542 - What is the hiring process like? How much time from the time you submit a resume until you are in country. How does the pay work? What is average annual salary? Tax free every month? (I understand the 330/365 tax free rule) How much a month? And how much experience in needed? I have FF1 & 2. 3 years paid FF. 3 years vol. capt. Thanks for the info so far. Ryan.

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    What is the hiring process like? How much time from the time you submit a resume until you are in country.
    Satrt out by calling Astrid Goble in Washington DC at (202)557-3680. She will send you an application packet if you meet the requirements. After the completed application is received back by Astrid it will be reviewed and she will call you to set up an interview if you qualify. Usually the interview is conducted over the telphone with one or two people. Within a few days you should find out if you are offered a position. Then you have to complete your physical and submit the paperwork. Next you receive a departure date for Houston. You spend about a week in Houston for processing (ID card, NBC training, company policies, etc) When you go wheels up from Houston for Dubai, UAE is when you start getting paid. From Dubai you fly to Baghdad. In Baghdad you have another interview with the Chief. The Chief then decides to which base you will go based upon your qualifications. This is the way it has been working, but around here everything is subject to change.

    How does the pay work? What is average annual salary? Tax free every month? (I understand the 330/365 tax free rule) How much a month?
    The average annual salary for firefighter is $90,000 which is paid bi-weekly. It is deposited into your account back in the U.S. and you receive a paystub to review in country. If you complete an IRS form, your first $6,666 a month is tax free and the reaminder is taxed based upon your withholding rate.

    And how much experience in needed?
    The last I knew they wanted you to have Fire I, Fire II, and Hazmat OPS. It also helped if you have ARFF and/or Hazmat Tech. If you're interested in the job apply, becaes we will be doing a lot of training over here.

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    I'm trying to attach a picture of a fire from a mortar attack. It hit two unoccupied parked trucks and started them on fire. Hopefully this works.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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