DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Delaware —
A young man, dressed in a heavy fireproof jacket, sits taut on a fire truck, ready for action. As the vehicle approaches the scene, he admires the view. Thick gray smoke rises from a small house and bright orange flames lick the roof. His heart pounds in his chest as adrenaline pumps through his body. Her fingers and toes are shaking with anticipation. When the truck stops, it’s in front of the door and standing, ready to do the job.
Airmen from the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department respond to scenes like this about 10 times a week. Twenty-five percent of the incidents they respond to are mutual aid agreements with local agencies, including the Dover Fire Service. This partnership between the 436th CES and the Dover Fire Department goes beyond simply responding to the same incidents: it’s a brotherhood.
“Once you’re a firefighter, you’re always a firefighter,” said Dover Fire Department Fire Chief David Carey. “We take care of each other. It doesn’t matter [what station] You are from.”
Fire stations often train together, doing class work and performing response and rescue drills.
Chief Staff Sgt. Andrew Kehl, 436th CES fire chief, believes the training helps increase cohesion between stations.
“Training with other agencies provides new skills and provides a chance for our team to teach and train volunteer departments,” Kehl said. “Many friendships have grown from our training and real-world calling with our local partners.”
Carey said his station trains with several agencies in the area, but the majority of joint events are with Dover AFB.
“The more you train together, the more you get to know each other. It becomes this relationship where you know each other’s abilities,” Carey said. [responding to] the incident flow more fluid.
In addition to training, many firefighters from the 436th CES also volunteer with the Dover Fire Department. Carey said volunteers are essential to staffing the Dover Fire Department, as all of Kent County‘s civilian fire stations are 100 per cent volunteers.
“When we recruit a soldier, [we know we’re] win someone who is responsible. You get that reliability that’s instilled in them by the Air Force,” Carey said. “Coaching [Airmen from the 436th CES fire department] becomes easier because instead of training them from the bottom up, we train them on [specific station operations].”
Airman 1st Class Timothy Marker, a 436th CES firefighter, started arson fighting when he was just 15 and currently spends 60 hours a week volunteering with the Dover Fire Department.
Marker said that in his time at the two fire stations, he feels like part of a brotherhood.
“If you constantly train with the same guys, you start to bond with them. When we answer these dangerous calls, there is a form of trust,” Marker said.
Tony Peterson, 436th CES fire captain and volunteer with the Dover Fire Department, said the brotherhood between the stations goes beyond just responding to calls; they can also rely on each other to let go of anything they do to help in their personal lives.
“[It’s about] trusting us even when we’re off duty,” Peterson said. “We learn a lot from each other [which makes it easier] to let us know if someone isn’t in the mood for the day. That’s the important part of brotherhood: watching over each other. »
Whether it’s a military firefighter or a civilian counterpart, those who share the bond know that through the smoke and flames, when they hear sirens and see flashing red and white lights approaching, their brothers are behind them.