Fort McCoy, Wis. –
Smoke billowed from the house as firefighters put on their gear and prepared to enter the firefighter training complex at the Fort McCoy Fire Department’s Station #2, July 16, 2021.
Only this time the firefighters were part of the Army Reserve’s 467th Engineer Company (Firefighter Headquarters) out of Des Moines, Iowa, who were here conducting annual training.
“The overall mission was to come out here and exercise our equipment, our gear and our training annually,” said Staff Sgt. Ronald Long, incident commander and acting senior enlisted advisor for the 467th Eng. Co. “We set up a burn scenario where we had a single story building on fire. We arrive on scene with smoke showing. We had to make entry, put the fire out, ventilate the area and then safely get out of the building.”
The more than 30 Soldiers went through in groups of two to complete the steps they practiced for months leading up to this training.
“There’s a lot of preparation,” Long said. “There are several months of preparation that goes into this between the planning of the event and then actual training leading up to the doing of the exercise.”
One of the unique aspects of this unit is the amount of crossover skills the Soldiers bring from their civilian careers. Many of the Army Reserve firefighters also work as firefighters as civilians as well. That knowledge drives the training planning and scenarios.
“The civilian firefighters that we have within the unit drive our training,” Long said. “They make sure that the rest of the unit is well trained and well informed to most current, up-to-date standards and strategies and tactics. They play a huge role in what we do and they keep us in good shape.”
One of those dual-hatted firefighters is Spc. Axel Silva. He has been with the unit for two years and worked as a civilian firefighter for the past year.
“We’ve been doing it a lot more than how we were before,” he said. “Which is great. I love it. I’m a huge let’s train, let’s get things going. The more we get training, the more people are successful. Training’s important because then if everyone is doing their job correctly, then nobody gets hurt.”