Firefighting: It's a way of life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Benroth
  • 23rd Wing Public Affairs
A firefighter is prepared to be in harm's way every day. They are always ready to put their life on the line no matter the job.

The firefighters at Moody work 24-hour shifts and rotate every other day. The schedule allows Airmen to work 12 days and then be off for three days. They average around 56 hours on the job a week.

Working this much means time off to them is precious, but a group of firefighters ignore this and go out of their way to volunteer at local fire stations during their time off to help support the local community.

"The reason I volunteer is it's a great way to give back and do a job that I love at the same time," said Senior Airman Carlos Tirado, 23rd Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "This job is dangerous no matter if it's on the military or civilian side."

Airman Tirado has been stationed at Moody for almost three years and has been a volunteer firefighter at the local station on Bemiss Road for a year and a half of that.

"The transition from military to the civilian department is almost the same in regards to the training and requirements needed," said Airman Tirado. "The main difference is the type of call and the area we respond to, which is responsible for a much larger area."

The fire department on base responds to fires that happen on base, including everything from a building fire to a car fire. This is unlike the volunteer department, which has a larger radius it responds to.

Both fire departments have similar qualities including using the same rank structure, but training occurs more often on the military side.

"This is a very physically and mentally demanding career," said Capt. Ken Carter, Lowndes County Fire Department training captain. "That's why we try to work with Moody as often as we can, whether its disaster drills or training with hazardous materials."

For the military members to be able to volunteer for a civilian fire department position, they must have completed their five-level training.

"We want our guys to be fully trained on everything they have to know here before they move onto training through the civilian department," said Rodney McKinney, 23rd CES firefighter crew chief, who has been volunteering during his off-duty time for a few years. "At the department on base, we are able to train every day. At the fire house on Bemiss, we can gather once week a month."

The fire department here has approximately five volunteers total that use their off-duty time to better the local community.

"These guys bring an amazing work ethic to the table and we try to reciprocate this back to these guys," said Captain Carter. "Having these firefighters come from Moody with all this experience and training is a huge asset to our firefighting capabilities."