Let me start by telling about the conditions in Iraq. First off it is not for every firefighter. It gets very hot and since it is winter now it gets very cold at night and mild during the day. We do all we can to accomodate our tents with a/c and heat but at times this is not even enough. Air quality is poor due to smoke and dust being in the air constantly. We adapt, overcome and improvise. That is what part of being a firefighter is all about. While adapting to firehouse life in the states it is a whole new ball game here. We work 16 hour days with one day off per week. Fires are not plentiful, mortar fire is not what it used to be (which is a good thing). We work close with the military on fire inspections. We make our tents as close to home as possible, but we have limitations.
There have been equipment issues that have come up in the past. Yes there has been some disorganization. But what do you expect when you drop 276 men in the middle of a third world country? Some disorganization is going to be expected. We can't get equipment overnight like we do in the states. Everything is looked at more stringently before it even gets to a base:
1) Equipment is gone over with a comb to ensure that when we receive our apparatus or equipment is in proper working order even before it is shipped to us.
2) When it gets to Kuwait it is inspected by Customs as quickly as they can get to it but sometimes this can take several days.
3) Who needs it the most at the time when it came in. The fire dept. that has osme men in gear or the one where a new base has opened and no one has gear. We have 15 bases operating with 3 that just started up and more planned for the near future.
4) Then there is the transport of the equipment. This takes alot of time and planning on the military part. A job they do quite well in spite of the obstacles they face. They have to plan the route. There are still insurgents out the who are planting IED's, and planning ambushes on ANYTHING that looks American.
The chief officers do all they can to get our training, assignments, and equipment to us as quickly as possible. With the equipment that was here at the start of this project our Project Manager/Fire Chief and WSI have done an outstanding job in getting what we NEED at the time. The initial engines that had to be run were old Iraqi rundown. Equipment. It is not comparable to what we have now.
The station I work at we have 2 pumpers, 2 mini-pumpers, a med. rescue, tanker, and 4 support vehicles for personnel use. We have 12 men that work here at this base. 8 of them have gear. SCBA's are MSA. WE have numerous tools, an imager, plenty of ground ladders, ground lighting and other pieces of equipment. Just because someone doesn't have gear does not mean that they can't do anything on the fire scene. We ADAPT, OVERCOME, and IMPROVISE. There is pump operations, equipment to get, water to shuttle (no hydrants) training, etc.
It was brought to the attention that a firefighter had suffered respiratory problems and chest pain due to an ice warehouse fire that turned freon into musard gas because of lack of breathing apparatus. To set the record straight on freon nd as it is heated. When freon leaks and comes into contact with heat it turns to phosgene. The phosgene when mixed with water turns to hydrochloric acid, not mustard gas. Any inhalation of this chemical would be detrimental if not fatal to whoever inhaled it and cause severe burns if coming into contact with skin and even more problems if ingested.
This is new project here that has never been tried. This is a new form of firefighting (Combat Firefighter). There are bound to be glitches in the system. The glitches need to be work withed and fixed and not ignored. This takes the firefighters working with the base and the base Chief working with the country wide Chief. The training is really gearing up. Now you can't expect to come here, be at the top of the list after 1 or 2 months of service. It doesn't work that way in the states and doesn't work that way here. There is plenty of in-house training, drills, ARFF training is really gearing up (every firefighter in Iraq will get this). There are plenty of techniques and ideas to take back to your respective fire dept.
To all those who are planning or thinking about coming over here. All chiefs on the bases care about what is going on with their firefighters. My Chief and Assistant Chief want us to be able at any time to come talk to them about anything that may be bothering us. They are no different here from how they would be in the states. They keep us informed in what is going on. We may not like it all the time but that is life. No one person will like it all the time. They understand this and try to work with us as best they can.
If your married and have kids think about this. I have been in the fire service for 14 years and married for 13. I have my wife's full support, the full support of my chief back home, Chief Joel Everett, all the firefighters on the deprtment. My wife knows that she can call any of them at any time for anything. I love my wife very much and I know she loves me. That love and trust we have for each other and the support from her and my daughters is what gets me through ll this. I know I'm going home to them and they will be there for me. Yes i do miss them more than anything. But, I know and she knows that I am making a difference over here.
The firefighters I work with over here, we are all a close family. We laugh, cut-up, and train together. The chief is constantly wanting to know if we are ok. We all have a unique personality and bring alot of ideas to the table. If you are thinking about it don't let some negativity swing you one way or the other. If you know someone who is leaving to do this then congratulate them and show your support. Look at this in the way it is:an opportnity to be involved in something that has never been accomplished before. We are ONE BIG TEAM driving hard for the win.
Troy Lee Colvin
Fallujah Fire and Rescue
Thank you to Chief Gentry and Chief Tye
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Thread: Issues about Iraq
01-16-2005, 01:11 PM #1
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
Issues about Iraq
01-16-2005, 02:40 PM #2
- Join Date
- Nov 2004
Thanks for the info you shared, Chief Gentry was a Good Chief here in North Carolina that cared about his troops so i'm sur ehe is doing all he can for you over there.I leave 14 Feb for HOUSTON and i'm excited and nervous about this adventure, but think the experience will be worth it.
Thanks againDavid "Scottie" Harris
D-4 Camp Falcon
"There is no right way to do a wrong thing...no success in management will ever compensate for a failure in leadership."
01-16-2005, 09:47 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
- Powell, Alabama
"The Family" @home & work
I must first comment by saying "great letter dude". I'm sure you guys over there in Iraq are really working your asses off. I know how 12 hours a day feels, I can only imagine how 16 hours for 6 days straight must be. What do you do on your long awaited day off? How do you get to sleep on those 8 short hours, knowing it'll be time to go back in a few hours? What do you do for 16 hours anyway? Tell us more.
Now I must reveal, that I'm the Fire Chief that "onefirekiller" mentioned in his letter. His Fire Chief back home. I must say, "I'm very proud of this guy". He left his wife and family, to go over seas and fight "God knows what kind of fires", not to mention staying low and out of gun fire. He also left his Fire Service family with a new fire station to get in order. I'd have to guess that this kid must really loves to fight fires, if he went all the way to Iraq just to fight 'em.
Well, I guess he'll be the light of the party for a while, when he gets back. He'll probably have some of those real big "war stories". But, we'll listen to them anyway.
We love you Troy.
Stay low and "quiet". We'll see you soon.
The Chief and Firefighters of
Powell Fire Department.
01-17-2005, 01:50 AM #4
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
- Norfolk, Virginia
I noticed your leave date is Feb. 21st, that's mine as well. Already sent off for my pass-port(expedited)and am getting my physical done tomorrow (Mon.) Is there anyone else that you know of leaving on the same date we are?
Someone else asked about leave of absence,...I'm turnig in my request for leave of absence but if City Mgr. refuses then i'll just end up resigning and the re-applying when i get back. The reality is setting in as more things get checked off on the "To-do" list. As far as the sweatshirts,sweatpants and your regular civilian clothes to bring are there any certain colors they DON'T want or that we SHOULDN'T bring? I mean, i'm sure you don't want to wear a bright yellow rain suit or bright colors do you,...seems like it would make for a nice target!?
If anyone has any info on this please let me know!
Thanks and everyone stay safe! Hopefully will see some of you soon enough!
Norfolk Fire Rescue
01-17-2005, 11:24 AM #5
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
- Charleston, SC
Re: Clothing to take to Iraq
If you go to the FF in Iraq threads and read the last 4 or 5 pages you will find the answers to alot of your questions. If you have time read all 35 pages it has some great information that will help you get prepared. There are some really great guys over there that keep sharing information with us on those thread pages. Good luck in the process and we'll see ya there. I leave on 24 January for Houston, 6 days and a wake up. It will definately be a unique experiencce that I am looking forward to.
The above letter has some good food for thought, the only thing that I would add is for everyone going over there remember that this is a brand new department being built from scratch with firefighters from departments all over the states. You must keep an open mind and be open for change. Personally, I think it's exciting to be a part of a new organization just starting. What an opportunity to expand our knowledge of the fire service and make us all better firefighters. Looking forward to meeting everyone and for those already there take care and we'll see ya in a week or two. Take care and god speed.
01-17-2005, 11:33 PM #6
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
Looks like we'll be meeting in houston in a few weeks. As per the sweats, I was told that it didn't matter when I called Houston. The main issue was the khaki color BDU's and the grey t-shirts. I am taking sweats from my department. Since I am now retired from my department, I might as well put them to some use elsewhere. I don't know anyone else leaving on Feb 21st yet. Maybe someone will read this and drop us a line. I'm pretty much packed up and ready to go. Going for my shots in the morning and then I'll be all done. The hardest thing is packing for my move. I'm selling my house and relocating to Nashville, TN at the end of this month. When I return I will be a resident of Tennesse. Well, if I can be of any assistance, please feel free to drop me a line. My email is email@example.com Looking forward to meeting you in Houston. To all of you there now, thanks for all the info and please keep it coming. It has been tremendously helpfull. I don't think that I would have been able to prepare without all the info. Again, thank you, stay safe and I'll see you all soon.
01-18-2005, 02:11 PM #7
How many military bases are there in Iraq? Does all of them have WSI fire stations/firefighters? What is the average # of personnel assigned to each base?I have no ambition in this world but one.. That is to be a Firefighter! The position in the eyes of some may appear to be a lowly one... It is a nobel calling
01-22-2005, 08:08 AM #8
Cannot answer those questions for reasons of operational security."When you are safe at home, you wish you were having an adventure-when you're having an adventure, you wish you were safe at home"
01-22-2005, 09:03 AM #9
- Join Date
- Jul 2004
I would like to start off by saying that I have been here in Iraq, under Wackenhut, since july of 2004. Yes, we have not always been "happy" with how things have gone. However, this is a combat zone, and yes, being the firefighters we are, we adapted and overcame to get the job done. When my group came "in-country", the only vehicle we had was an Iraqi, French- made engine. we had about 6 sets of PPE, which those that had it, shared it with others to allow them to work. Those of us that did not have it, also had other tasks, such as apparatus Operator. Even without PPE, there was never an incident that couldn't be handled safely. If we didnt have gear, we adjusted and protected from a distance. There was always a way to do something as safe as possible. Yes, now alot of the logistical issues have been met, and yes, there are still more to deal with, but again, this IS a combat zone.
As for the 2 complainers. For one, I was stationed with Mr. Malys. And in the approx. 1 month he was here, he was not even on a fire to be exposed to anything. I have been dealing with sinus infections for the last 6 months. Just the nature of the environment. And about being afraid of termination, there is an open door, if you don like it, you can leave. There are just about 300 firefighters on the ground here, and 2 people, who weren't even here long enough to "experience" the worst conditions, should tell ya something. No, this world is not perfect, but if you even start to think that it should be just like home, you shouldn't even be here in the first place. We make the best out of what we have, and to me, do a damn fine job at it! If you come over just for the money, don't bother, it will be a waste of everybody's time and money. Don't get me wrong, money is good, but it takes alot more "non-material" motivation to stick it out here.Oh, did I forget to mention...this IS a Combat Zone, and we all must adapt and overcome!
01-26-2005, 09:32 PM #10
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
- Huntsville International Airport
PROUD OF YOU BRO
THAT WAS ONE OF THE BEST ARTICLES I HAVE READ IN A LONG TIME. A LOT YOU COULD TAKE A FEW LESSONS FROM ONE FIRE KILLER. DID YOU SEE ANY COMPLAINING OR WHINNING IN HIS ARTICLE? NO THAT IS THE WAY HE IS. HE LIVES BY THE FIRE NIGHT AND DAY HE EATS SLEEPS FIRE. AND A COUPLE OF GUYS COME HOME EARLY WHINNING ABOUT NOT HAVING THEIR OWN TURN OUT GEAR. SUCK IT UP AND GO ON. I HAVE THE UTMOST RESPECT FOR ONE FIRE KILLER FOR 2 REASONS. ONE IS HE IS IN IRAQ IN THE WORST CITY FALLUJAH TRYING TO TAME THE DRAGON THAT ALL OF US HAS SEEN. HE DOES IT WITH OUTDATED EQUIPMENT AND LOW MAN POWER. THE SECOND REASON IS BECAUSE HE IS MY BROTHER. WE HAVE FOUGHT SIDE BY SIDE SLAYING THE DRAGON AND RUNNING THE AMBULANCE TOGETHER FROM TIME TO TIME. HE KNOWS I SUPPORT HIM 100% AND HE KNOWS THAT HIS FAMILY IS TAKEN CARE OF. BRO YOU TAKE CARE AND BE SAFE THINKING ABOUT YOU EVERY DAY JET366
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