Firefighters Maintain Response Readiness

Story by SGT John Berry on 08/09/2018
FORT MCCOY, Wis. Firefighters practice a structural fire drill and dual-truck pumping operations at Fort McCoy on Aug. 7, 2018.

Due to high-intensity operations with flammable materials and explosive ordinance, all training operations require fire safety considerations, and with access to a large variety of simulators the Fort McCoy Fire Department prepares to support that demand.

"We have a full training area with a burn tower, a rappelling tower, all kinds of different props for different things," said Fort McCoy Firefighter Matthew Wheeler, "We'll do live fire training in the building and we'll go in there and put the fires out on different levels."

These exercises, as well as a detailed knowledge of the training area, allow the Fort McCoy Fire Department to respond and suppress fires before they impact training missions.

"A lot of the guys here have worked here a long time. Our people are very knowledgeable on where these fires occur, they know where the ranges are located [and] they've dealt with these units in the past," he said.

Wheeler also has experience on both sides of fire safety as a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army Reserve's 2-411th Logistic Support Battalion, "It does help me be more well-rounded and there's many other soldiers that do the same thing. It just shows that people can do both, learn different roles, have lots of training and get involved."

He also expressed his confidence in Fort McCoy and the surrounding communities' access to medical care and fire response to take care of any emergencies that arise during the course of training exercises, "I know if I'm on a range down on south post that the fire station on south post is right there and ready to go, 100 percent, all the time."

Fort McCoy hosted over 150,000 Soldiers for training in 2017 and the Fort McCoy Fire Department responded to an average of 900 calls to provide emergency services across post and give Soldiers a safe and interruption free training environment.

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