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Fort Carson Mountaineer

52nd BEB, Fire Department: Making Fort Carson safe

By 1st Lt. Zade Koch | 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division Public Affairs

FORT CARSON, Colo. — In the often hot, arid climate of Colorado, a wildfire could spread through large portions of the Fort Carson training areas, obstructing training and potentially endangering sructures and residents.

52nd Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, has partnered with Fort Carson Fire Department to help them control wildfires.

FCFD travels on dirt access roads throughout the training areas, when a fire occurs, to suppress the blaze. Over the years, some roads in the 215 square miles of training areas have become overgrown, rutted, or washed out. This prevents FCFD from quickly accessing many parts of the training area.

Fortunately, 52nd BEB engineers have worked diligently over the past five months to improve over 25 miles of access roads so FCFD can travel more safely and quickly to control wildfires.

3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 52nd BEB, engineers improved a tough three miles of road near Booth Mountain, a local landmark reaching 6,450 feet above sea level and 640 feet. above its surrounding terrain.

This mountainous and rocky section was initially overgrown by vegetation or washed out from flooding. Even FCFD’s powerful F-550 brush trucks could not safely traverse the roads.

After surveying the land with FCFD Deputy Chief Mitchum Van Dyke, the engineers got to work.

The platoon’s 120M grader could re-grade flatter sections of the road. Most other sections required more earthmoving to improve their trafficability.

D6 bulldozers cut necessary sections of soil and removed larger rocks. High mobility engineer excavators then used their front-end buckets to carry in new soil for the roadway. The 120M grader smoothed out the remaining ruts as a finishing touch.

The still steep, windy roads may not make a smooth Sunday drive, but they now allow FCFD trucks to travel in case of emergencies.

“I’ve worked with them (firefighters) before; it’s refreshing,” said Sgt. Antonio Enriquez, acting platoon sergeant.” There is a bigger picture to what we’re doing. What we’re doing has a purpose; it’s meaningful to another organization, other people.”

Before joining the Army, Enriquez served as a Type 1 Wildland Firefighter for three years in the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

FCFD agreed that the 52nd BEB work had a significant impact.

Van Dyke planned which roads to work on, basing his decision on roadway conditions and a risk assessment of fires in the training area. The team at FCFD was also heavily involved on-site by scouting locations, supervising work, and testing trafficability for their trucks.

So far, the 52nd BEB has completed FCFD’s top three priority areas.

According to Van Dyke, there are still many miles to go. As the 52nd BEB prepares for an upcoming training rotation, the project will cede to a different BEB on Fort Carson to continue the work.

As an Engineer Support Platoon in the 52nd BEB, 3rd platoon concentrates on counter mobility and survivability missions supporting the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The platoon’s Horizontal Construction Engineers typically use their digging assets to construct anti-tank ditches, Stryker defilades and crew-served fighting positions.

This unique mission was a new training opportunity for the platoon.

“The platoon got to understand what it’s like to make roads,” said Enriquez “They got a better understanding of what it’s like in the civilian world when they get out.”

The fire mission has been a boon for the 52nd BEB, FCFD and Fort Carson. The engineers learned new skills to augment their mission and prepare them for work outside the Army.

FCFD can now travel the training area more quickly and safely to fulfill its mission of controlling fires on Fort Carson.

The Soldiers and Families on Fort Carson are now a bit safer, knowing the fire department is more capable than ever.

52nd BEB, Fire Department: Making Fort Carson safe
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