By Staff Sgt. Matthew Coleman-Foster
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
Life. Property. Environment. These three areas are the main mission focus for the Schriever Air Force Base firefighters, and they take that mission seriously.
“We are constantly trying to improve our response and our organization to better serve Team Schriever,” said Allen Perry, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department health and safety assistant chief.
In fact, Air Force Space Command recognized those efforts just this year. Schriever’s fire department earned top bragging rights as the command’s Small Fire Department of the Year, the fourth time in the last five years they have earned this honor.
The fire department has transformed while witnessing the base growth from Falcon Air Force Station, having six fire fighters and three trucks, to Schriever, where they currently have 36 firefighters, all prior service, and nine trucks.
The organizational structure of the base’s fire department is very similar to other fire organizations. One focus is operations, which provides a lot of the emergency response mitigating aspects.
Operations is in a ready posture 24 hours a day, year round including holidays, down days and weekends. They also have normal workdays which consist of routine maintenance on vehicles, training and details.
Have you ever seen fire department personnel in your building and wondered where the fire was? Then you have seen fire prevention. Fire prevention is a primary mission of the Fire Emergency Services Flight. It is serious work that can have extremely high pay-back or catastrophic consequences. Fire prevention is responsible for fire prevention inspections, facility pre-incident plan review, code enforcement and education.
“Our goal is to educate the public on fire safety so it’s second nature. Last year we conducted 159 fire safety visits and identified 81 fire hazards/fire safety deficiencies. I have heard many stories from people telling me about a fire they had; I tell them it’s OK fire will happen we just have to be prepared; as long as nobody gets hurt we can always replace possessions it’s just stuff,” said Brad Truver, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron fire prevention assistant chief.
One of the misconceptions of fire departments is they just sit around and wait for a fire or emergency to happen. This is not true according to Tracy Snyder, 50th Civil Engineer Squadron training assistant chief, as they use those times away from fires and other emergencies to train.
“The Air Force Civil Engineer Center drops down an annual training plan for us. They are the governing body for us, every year they give us the training calendar and track our training to make sure that everyone is proficient in the roles,” he said.
Their training consists of proficiency training, critical training and local area training. Every position has a certain amount of proficiency training that is needed throughout the year per their core job description.
On top of that, about 90 percent of the fire fighters on base have or are pursuing their associates and/or bachelor’s degree.
“In our career field in order to be good at it-really good at it, your heart has to really be in it. I stay true to that. If your heart is not in it, there are plenty of other career fields out there. This is not a career field where you can second guess yourself or hesitate. We get paid to do a job and that is to protect this base, it’s community and mission,” said Snyder.
Through all these different flights the fire department is able to maintain its efficiency and produce top notch results when it comes to responding to emergencies. Their dedication to the mission does not end at the gate though. Many times the base fire department will also provide assistance to outside agencies when requested.
“We love our community involvement not just on base but off base as well, even on their own time,” said Snyder.
The base fire department has a mutual aid agreement with several outside agencies including the Ellicott Fire Department.
“We assist EFD whenever they call us depending on our manning, mission permitting and call dependent. Right now our manning is good so anytime they call us we go. For whatever they need us for,” said Snyder
The base fire department is hard at work constantly training and preparing for that call. No matter what time or day they will be ready. Living not only by the Air Force core values but also the mission of providing fire services and minimizing emergency incidents.