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Firefighters Strengthen Partnership and Build Camaraderie

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Amy M. Lovgren
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar – On the flightline of Al Udeid Air Base, a U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules from Dobbins Air Force Reserve Base, Georgia, is surrounded by simulated fire and simulated smoke during an aircraft explosion exercise. Over the public address system, firefighters with the 379th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron’s Fire and Emergency Services Flight and the Qatar Emiri Air Force Fire Department received a message to respond to a simulated explosion on, Aug. 1.


Before the joint aircraft explosion exercise could take place, both fire department chiefs met at several planning meetings for weeks to discuss the objectives they wanted to achieve, the skill sets each department had to offer and the importance of firefighter accountability during the event.   


“The main goal was to have a joint unified command between the U.S. Air Force Fire Department and Qatar Emiri Air Force Fire Department,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Stephen Ingrando, assistant chief of training with the 379th ECES. “Both departments would work together under one Incident Action Plan. In this scenario the Assistant Chief from the U.S. Air Force Fire Department took the lead role of Incident Commander and generated the Incident Action Plan under which the Qatar Emiri Air Force Fire Department committed their equipment and resources to help safely mitigate the emergency.”


The aircraft was divided into four sectors. Traffic cones, representing fire, and mannequins, representing victims, were placed in all four sectors. The firefighters put out the fire by spraying the water hose until the cones were knocked over. They also transported the simulated victims to a triage location.


One of the most important elements associated with the fire department’s culture is their camaraderie. Camaraderie is forged over time. It instills trust, cooperation, acceptance and a sense of belonging.


“It takes a special type [of] person to become a firefighter,” said Master Sgt. Jason Craig, assistant chief of operations with the 379th ECES. “We usually have a lot of the same human characteristics, like a strong desire to help others during emergencies or not being afraid to face fire.”


For a new 379th ECES crew, this was the perfect opportunity to strengthen their camaraderie with the Qatar Emiri Air Force Fire Department.  


“Since it was our first time working with the Qatar Emiri Air Force Fire Department, we wanted to make sure our communication was good,” said Craig. “If needed, in a real world event, we can have effective communication with their firefighters.”


Overall, the joint exercise was a success. The main goal of having a joint unified command was completed and both fire departments worked under one Incident Action Plan.


According to Chief Master Sgt. Russell Eidenschink, base fire chief with the 379th ECES, the joint exercise was another success in building upon a great partnership that already exists between both fire departments. The main goals of working within the confines of a unified command and within the principles of the Incident Command System were completed. Both fire departments continue to learn different aspects about each other and it brought them another step closer to working on-scene together. It was a great opportunity for both fire departments to provide fire protection for events where assistance from either side is needed.


“After the exercise concluded, I saw the brotherhood and mutual respect from both sides in the form of smiling faces and handshakes,” said Craig. “I absolutely look forward to our next joint exercise with our partners from Qatar. The next joint exercise is currently in the planning stage between the department heads as we speak.”