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N.C. Army & Air National Guard Firefighters - Maintain Mission Readiness Despite Government Shutdown

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran
  • 145th AW/PA
Whether it's racing through city streets dodging traffic with sirens blowing, or being assigned to the front line on the battle field, the men and women who serve as firefighters know the importance of doing things right the first time in order to save lives.

When a crowd of frightened people scamper franticly out of a burning building or look on as their personal belongings go up in flames, the screaming echoes of sirens offer a kind of relief to those who stand by feeling helpless. In some cases these victims are surprised when not just local firefighters show up but groups of military members dressed in firefighting gear arrive. They watch as these men and women run into burning buildings risking their lives to try and save people they have never met. This is just an example of what the Air and Army National Guard firefighters do to serve their community and country.

Firefighters from the North Carolina Air National Guard, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, N.C. Army National Guard firefighters and the N.C. State firefighters all train together to ensure that continuity between agencies is met. Anything can happen at a moment's notice whether it is on the home front or in volatile areas in deployed locations. For this reason they must continue to conduct a myriad of training to succeed in saving lives and property. These firefighters must check out their equipment each and every day. They must know the intricacies of each tool that is used and how each piece of equipment functions including the fire truck itself to heighten the success of the mission.

In the wake of the Federal Government shutdown many states were faced with funding fire protection units until congress passed a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government. As a result, many North Carolina State firefighters were furloughed and Army Guard Firefighters assigned to 430th and 677th Engineer Fire Fighting Teams were mobilized to assist in support of Fire Protection at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport and Stanly County Airport.

The 435th and 677th Army National Guard and 145th Civil Engineer Air National Guard Firefighting Teams are well trained and effective firefighting units. They learn first aid procedures, rescue procedures and firefighting equipment operations. In order to become efficient with their job, the soldiers, airmen and civilian firefighters train constantly to improve their skills and responsiveness.

These units are close-knit and cohesive and consider themselves to being one fire department. Because of their joint training, they can be augmented with any military or civilian fire-fighting unit and work together as a unit. While there is only one person on the nozzle that puts out the fire, there are numerous other assignments that need to take place on the fire ground. It is important for each firefighter to be willing and able to work in a support role for the good of the team.

The diversity of the fire equipment is wide-ranging. Airmen and Soldiers work with civilian fire-fighters who help them train and sharpen their skills in areas of inspecting buildings and equipment for fire hazards and responding to emergency situations. Training with the Air National Guard provides joint fire protection activities and the training needed to ensure all personnel are mission ready. Enhanced structural live burn training, aircraft live burn training, and recertification requirements are conducted on the Air side since the Army does not have these training facilities.

The North Carolina Air and Army National Guard continue to strive to be the best that they can be to protect our state, our nation and its people. They are an invaluable asset in support of our nation or statewide emergencies and disasters by providing an array of fire-fighting and rescue capabilities.

"We are trained to fight fires and wars but most of all" Staff Sgt. Tim Layton stated with pride, "We are passionate about doing our job and assisting the citizens of North Carolina." Layton is the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge and Fire Chief for the 430th Engineer Firefighter-Fighting Team based out of Salisbury, N.C.