News: DOD’s busiest fire department readies for influx
Story by Spc. Cody Thompson
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – Fort Bragg Fire and Emergency Services plan for the influx of thousands of on-base personnel. Approximately 40,000 soldiers, families and civilians with the U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command will relocate from Fort McPherson, Ga., to Fort Bragg, N.C., in 2011.
Due to the closing of 20 military bases by the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, one additional fire station was recently added to the previous six when Fort Bragg acquired Pope Air Force Base, said Steven Blackburn, the fire department chief, and Fayetteville, N.C., native.
A recent Department of Defense report surveying on-post emergency services worldwide named Fort Bragg FES the busiest department DOD wide.
“The call volume will increase somewhat with the arrival of FORSCOM,” said Mark Melvin, the deputy fire chief and Fayetteville native.
As the call volume increases, so too will the traffic, but there is something that people can do to assist emergency services in their rescue efforts.
“Increased traffic will be one major issue effecting first responders,” said Gerald Auch, the battalion chief. “I ask that you yield to emergency vehicles by moving to the right and stopping until the units pass. Many times when one emergency vehicle passes, another is right behind it.”
Slowing down for yellow lights would also help to reduce the amount of accidents on Fort Bragg, added the Boston native.
Stopping for flashing lights and changing yellows are not the only preemptive steps people can take to assist emergency services.
“Many times people will stop in the unauthorized zones at stop lights by our fire stations and block fire trucks in, which creates a delay in responding to emergencies,” said Auch.
Despite the many skills that firefighters possess, they still rely on the public to help when an emergency arises.
“All of the firefighters are trained as emergency medical technicians, hazardous materials mediation technicians, and offer crash, fire, and technical rescue services,” said Blackburn.
Receiving this assistance from drivers would significantly help in rescuing those in need and decrease response time on Fort Bragg, added Blackburn.