Skip to comments.Tough neighborhood, but duty first (Firemen in Iraq)
Posted on 10/18/2006 6:05:35 PM PDT by SandRat
Jwaad Mohammed, chief of the Al Benook Fire Station in East Baghdad, has 15 years of experience as an emergency responder. He says his 52-person squad gets three or four calls daily, as theyre responsible for a 12-sector area involving some 60 streets and several hundred-thousand residents. They also provide mutual support to nearby fire stations when needed.
Apart from normal house and car fires, his squad has responded to a number of explosive device detonations. Our job is to get to the scene as quickly as possible, he explained. My squad is well trained, some of them going to Bahrain and Jordan for advanced courses.
On an average day, Baghdad fire fighters respond to 20 calls that, anywhere else in the world, would be considered a major catastrophe, Otwell said. And because theyre often the first at a scene, they know theres a possibility of a secondary explosive device. They have a tough job but understand the challenges and are very motivated individuals.
He remembers asking some fire fighters one day why they reported late to a training class. He said they explained they had provided emergency assistance at a bus bombing earlier that day that had killed 26 people and when they finished, they discovered Baghdad roads had been closed.
So they walked the seven miles to class, he explained. No matter where you go as a fireman worldwide, whether in the United States or here in Iraq, its duty first. They put their people and their government first. They have a proud tradition, he said.
He noted that last year the CDD trained 1,000 fire fighters and this year were going to train two (hazardous materials) teams - one for Baghdads east side and one for the west side, he said.
In addition, search and rescue teams are being formed for the north, central and southern areas of Iraq. Were looking at providing the firefighters portable lights for fire and rescue calls at night and portable compressors to fill up their air tanks, he explained.
According to Otwell, Baghdad had just 17 fire stations in various states of disrepair under Saddam Hussein. Today there are 25 fire stations including 17 older structures that have been renovated.
Five years ago, places like Sadr City had just one fire station covering 2.5 million people, Otwell said. Today, we have at least three supporting that area, including Al Benook. Response time has decreased from 15 minutes to five or six minutes, he continued.
Throughout Iraq, $125 million is being invested in fire stations, equipment and training. Al Benook is one of eight new fire stations in Baghdad.
They each feature five bays - three for ladder trucks and two for SUVs. They include a dormitory area for 20 fire fighters, a dining room for 30, a commercial-grade kitchenette to feed 40 people, a training room for 20, a locker room, a control room and a chiefs office.
Construction on the $1.2 million Al Benook facility began in December 2004 and was completed this summer.
Bless those who built this station, Jwaad said. This is a fine facility. Our community really appreciates it.
Thanks for the post. I've got five of my former students firefighting in Iraq right now.
Sometimes, when I start thinking that the Iraqi's just can't do a damn thing right and are pissing away a golden opportunity, I read encouraging stories like this and remember that not everyone in Iraq is a filthy jihadist.
Thanks for the story and kudos to these men!