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Iraqi Firefighters

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  • Iraqi Firefighters

    I noticed in another thread that someone asked about Iraq's fire departments. As an Army firefighter, 2 others and myself were asked to assist a Civil Affairs unit with rebuilding some of the local fire departments in our area of operations. Now, being a firefighter on our base is pretty quiet. We're a little further north than Baghdad, and there is a lot of "enemy activity" around here, but not a lot of fires. So, I jumped at the chance.

    Before the war, there was a thread stating that Iraqi firefighters are part of the military. Not really. They are part of civil defense, along with the police. What I found shocking, was that communities of 30-70,000 population often had NO fire departments at all. Communities with 100,000 population to 200,000 had 1 station and maybe 2 trucks. Most of the trucks are old and worn out. 1 station did have a new French made pumper that was given to them by Baghdad.

    It appears that during Saddam's days, fire protection was at the bottom of the priority list. The cities we've been to with fire departments had very poor equipment. The firefighters on the other hand, appeared to be very motivated. There are some that are there just becasue it's a paying job, but most of them enjoy being firefighters. Most firefighters in our area attended a training school in northern Iraq. Training consisted mostly of European style firefighting but seemed very complete. The school had structural training, first aid and rescue. The school was about a month and a half long.

    The fire stations are in ruin, most trucks sit outisde, very little equipment is available, and NO ONE has bunker gear or airpacks. The firefighters are aware they need equipment, but with no budget, they can't buy anything. They make about $120 a month. The chief makes about $180. These guys often take money from thier own pockets to purchase fuel for the fire apparatus, or get needed station supplies.

    The fire apparatus are mostly made in China and are old and worn out. One station got lucky with the Baghdad donation, but they are protecting a community 200,000 with 1 truck. Suprisingly, they don't have a lot of fires. The previous city had 45 fires last year.

    Fire fighting tactics would make even an old leather lung cringe. These guys will do interior attack, they simply spray each other, run in until they can't stand it anymore, then come back out.

    I have talked with the firefighters (through an interpreter) at great length. The majority of these men became firefighters because of the job. They wanted to help. Many of these men were former military, one was even a MIG 23 pilot during the Iran/Iraq war. Some of you may now be thinking "to hell with them". BUT you would have to be in this country and listen to these men and the ramifications of NOT serving Saddam. And if you're wondering, yes, they are happy he's gone.

    The terminology we use in the US is understood here. The interpreter couldn't even comprehend waht we were saying, but he'd translate it anyway, and the firefighters knew what we were talking about. These guys appear very dedicated to their job. When the war started, many of these men came in and manned the station in the event a stray rocket slammed into a home. They simply wanted to protect thier city. We have been back and forth to these stations numerous times helping with equipment purchases and station upgrades. Initially, they were apprehensive of us, but after they found out we are Army Reserve Firefighters, and firefighters in civilian life, we were welcomed into thier station. Now, when we go back, we are greeted warmly, and even guys off duty stop by if they see our vehicles there. Not once have I felt threatened by any of them. Now, the drive to get there can be a little hairy, but I'm in the Army and that's what I get paid for. that's about it. I don't get on a computer much, but I'll try to answer questions when I'm back.

  • #2
    Wow. Thanks for the really neat post FiftyOneMike!

    Stay safe and thanks for everything you guys are doing over there!


    • #3
      Thanks Mike

      Your what "America" is all about...
      Come home soon--- Be Safe
      Neil Donahue
      Attached Files


      • #4
        FiftyOneMike....this firefighter offers a crisp, hand salute to you sir. I offer my thanks for everything that you, along with many other men and women, are doing to protect our freedoms.

        God's speed, be safe...we are all proud of you!

        Proudly serving as the IACOJ Minister of Information & Propoganda!
        Be Safe! Lookouts-Awareness-Communications-Escape Routes-Safety Zones

        *Gathering Crust Since 1968*
        On the web at www.section2wildfire.com


        • #5
          GREAT POST !!!!!! hurry home
          IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
          Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
          ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
          RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
          LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
          I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
          "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
          http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115


          • #6
            FiftyOneMike, on behalf of the Hi-Nella Fire Company #1 I'd like to thank you and the rest of the soldiers who serve our great country. I think about our soldiers everyday. I, ofcourse, am planning on enlisting in the Army after high school (currently in a NJROTC unit) I was hoping you could PM me some tips on gettin through Army Basic Training, and what its like being in the Army.

            Thanks again for what you do *hand salute*
            Firefighter, Volunteering since Oct 2001

            CCFA 05-04, best overall class for 2005
            "GOOD GAME!"


            • #7
              Hey FiftyOneMike, greetings from another 51M. Have you checked out my thread on "Baghdad International Airport" It's gotten alot of really good response. The Iraqi apparatus we have here are called "Somati's" have you heard of them? They are crash trucks, so you guys probably wouldn't have them around your way. Were you guys involved with the UN bombing or the Chlorine spill near Baghdad? We got alerted, but were stood down a couple hours later. Good luck brother, you're probably in a more dangerous position than we are, so stay low! Hope to talk to you soon! PM me if you want to talk.

              SPC, BIAP Fire/Rescue
              "At one point we decided to fight fire with fire, basically your house just burned faster."

              Recipient of the IACOJ Service Award 2003.


              • #8
                mdoddsjffhnfc - if you're joining the Army in the hopes of going into fire protection, don't do it. Join the Air Force. My opinion of the Army is not even handed right now, so I would not be a good one to ask. As far as basic, learn your general orders, rank structure, everything there is to know about an M16A2. Start doing pushups, situps, and running if you're not already doing them. DO NOT fall asleep in any classes. Things have changed since I went to basic. I've been in 23 years, so things may not be the same. If you join, good luck. But I would check the Air Force and Marines and see what they have to offer.

                Army fire - Yes, we have ARFF vehicles. French and Italian. Soon we will probably have some P-23's. Depends on which General wins the fight. I'm hoping there's some firefighters that come with those P-23s too.


                • #9
                  Good luck over there brother and God keep you safe. I've been in this part of the world training emergency services for the last 7 years. I have found that 90% of the trainees are very motivated and just soak up knowledge and practical experience. Its strange that there doesn't seem to have been much of a tradition to fire services here that we find in North America and some parts of Europe. I brought the 9_11 video that the French Brothers shot at the scene. Without fail there were some tears and some very somber comments made during discussions afterward. Many expressed amazement at the fact that no one thought twice about going in to fight the fire. I've found in several countries here that surround and drown is more the action. On the other hand, due to not many wooden or wood frame structures, there is not as much chance for large scale conflagrations that we see back home. Once again Mike, congratulations and good luck in spreading your knowledge to those in need.


                  • #10
                    Armyfirerescue : Those Somati's you're talking about.
                    I may be wrong, but I think they are manufactured here in Belgium.
                    So, If you could find that out, I could get you a lot of info on those things.
                    Stay safe and watch your back.
                    This goes to all our brothers in arms down there.
                    *The BOSS rules*


                    • #11

                      Thanks for the info, it certainly sounds like those guys have it rough over there. You take care of yourself over there.
                      A'int No Rocket Scientist's in The Firehall


                      • #12
                        Seen a couple of new fire trucks that are headed to Iraq tonight. They are setting on a semi flatbed at an old grain elevator siding near me. I noticed them on the way over to get my Combine so I stopped to look at them on the way home. Crew cab one tons. One is a mini pumper and the other looks like a rescue type truck. Both have roll up door type beds. They have decals on the door in Arabic with an outline of Iraq on the decal. They are both painted lime yellow. I'm not sure if they are waiting to be loaded onto a rail car or what the deal was. The trailer was unhooked with the two trucks on it.


                        • #13
                          Very interesting infos, friends.

                          Some personal thoughts: I have not traveled a lot, but
                          my little esperience teach me that, up to now, firemen all over the world share a lot of common experiences, behavior, and a deep friendship.

                          I met siberian firemen, french, swiss, and USA too. Never had a problem to communicate, also if we don't know the language (I am italian, speak only english).

                          So it is not strange, for me, to discover brothers in Iraq. If you have never met a fireman of a far country in the world, you have to live the experience, it is very gratifying. A glance, a gesture and you can identify another fireman, and communicate, and be friend in five minutes. Say you why.

                          Thanks, friends.


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