Collaboration builds comradery: Total Force, community firefighters train at Dover

  • Published
  • By Airman Brandan Hollis
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Flames erupt from a crashed plane. The smell of fuel fills the air. Everyone flees the scene while firefighters run towards it. At Dover Air Force Base, 436th Airlift Wing firefighters train with live fires and practice with equipment to prepare for this moment.

The Dover Air Force Base Fire Department has a live-fire training facility that simulates a plane crash and helps firefighters get hands-on experience fighting fires from inside a truck and on foot. Many other military bases and civilian fire departments do not have access to these resources. So the Dover Air Force Base Fire Department offers their facility as a training hub to help other bases and local civilian fire departments.

One of the most recent live-fire training collaborations was with the 177th Fighter Wing of the New Jersey Air National Guard on Sept. 22, 2020. Tech. Sgt. Ryan Fogarty, 177th Civil Engineer Squadron fire emergency services station captain, helped coordinate the collaborative training. Fogarty cites his history and connection to Dover as a major help in organizing this Total Force training.

“In 2019, myself, along with Staff Sgt. Robert McCarty, were asked by Air Mobility Command to backfill at Dover Air Force Base while their troops were deploying overseas, so they could accomplish the mission at their home station,” said Fogarty. “In the six months that we were there, we shaped a lifelong relationship with the men and women of Dover Air Force Base.”

Airmen from the 177th Fighter Wing gained experience in aircraft live-fire training, structural live-fire training, technical rescue, vehicle extrication, aircraft familiarization and confined-space training while at Dover.

“Dover provides a state-of-the-art facility and the ability to coordinate with other bases. Without Dover Fire Protection and the use of their facilities, the New Jersey Air National Guard would not have been able to accomplish their training this year,” said Fogarty. “I would like to thank Dover Fire Emergency Services for allowing us to come train at their facilities. Everyone at Dover has been more than accommodating in helping us achieve our training goals and accomplish our mission. We look forward to training and working with Dover Air Force Base in the future.”

Local civilian fire departments benefit from Dover Air Force Base’s training facilities as well. The city of Dover Fire Department, Little Creek Fire Company and Magnolia Fire Company all use the installation’s training facilities and collaboratively train together. Tech. Sgt. Scott Morisette, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department fire inspector, also volunteers for Magnolia Fire Company. Morisette’s career in the Air Force, in addition to his position with Magnolia, enables him to coordinate collaborative exercises between the two organizations.

“It’s nice to bring Magnolia up here, so they can learn new techniques,” said Morisette. “We depend on Dover, Magnolia and other fire companies … to come on base and help us too.”

Collaborative training through the Dover Air Force Base Fire Department gives Total Force Airmen and community firefighters the opportunity to learn from one other. Morisette was able to speak to the connection he has seen building between firefighters.

“I would like to see more collaborative training. We can learn from each other. One department isn't better than the other; joining up always makes us better than we were yesterday,” said Morisette. “Getting to know them and networking establishes a great sense of comradery between bases. All the departments coming together forms a brotherhood.”