Help is on the way: military firefighters assist civilian world

Members of Goodfellow’s Military Support for Civilian Authorities team pose in front of one of their fire trucks Wednesday at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy. From left to right are Master Sgt. Al Medina, Marine Sgt. Taylor Leathers, Staff Sgt. Matt Hare, Staff Sgt. Scott Anderson, Army Staff Sgt. Luis Ruesga, Staff Sgt. Travis Winningham and Staff Sgt. Jason Cunningham, all of the 312th Training Squadron. Not pictured are Staff Sgt. Eric Kunz (the primary driver of the truck) and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Victor Torres. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stephen Musal)

Members of Goodfellow’s Military Support for Civilian Authorities team pose in front of one of their fire trucks Wednesday at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy. From left to right are Master Sgt. Al Medina, Marine Sgt. Taylor Leathers, Staff Sgt. Matt Hare, Staff Sgt. Scott Anderson, Army Staff Sgt. Luis Ruesga, Staff Sgt. Travis Winningham and Staff Sgt. Jason Cunningham, all of the 312th Training Squadron. Not pictured are Staff Sgt. Eric Kunz (the primary driver of the truck) and Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Victor Torres. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Stephen Musal)

GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- On the morning of March 29, nine military fire training instructors from the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy responded to a request for mutual aid support for a crude oil tank fire near Tankersley, Texas. All the Goodfellow responders are part of the Military Support for Civil Authorities program.

According to the summary of incident report, MSCA/Goodfellow responders were able to contain and extinguish the fire within three hours. Their efforts helped limit the loss to one crude oil tank and save the other exposed tanks on-scene, which contained more than 21,000 gallons of crude oil worth an estimated value of $25,000.

The MSCA, previously known as the Military Support to Civil Defense, is a program in which the U.S. military provides domestic support to civilian agencies in response to natural or man-made disasters, chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive consequence management and other support as required.

The oil tank fire was not the first time MSCA responders from Goodfellow have helped civil authorities in the surrounding areas.

"Over the past 12 - 24 months, the GAFB Fire Department has responded to 11 MSCA emergencies," said Master Sgt. Al Medina, the safety officer who was one of the nine instructors who responded to the tank fire.

On July 29, 2006, MSCA support was provided to the San Angelo Fire Department for a structural fire at the Honey Creek Apartments.

The DoD fire academy provided the GAFB Fire Department with four instructor/firefighters, two 2,000-gallon water tankers and a maintenance vehicle for support.

Upon arrival, crews set up and maintained additional sources of water supply that aided in extinguishing the fire.

On Aug. 26, 2006, MSCA support was provided to the San Angelo Fire Department for a wildland fire started by a lightning strike.

The DoD fire academy provided the GAFB Fire Department with two instructor/firefighters and one P-27 mini-pumper (wildland firefighting vehicle) for support.

Upon arrival, the crews set up portable lighting for the command and control and staging areas. Sergeant Medina said this was crucial for firefighter/responder safety.

On average, the number of MSCA members from the DoD fire academy is around 60 instructor/firefighters, but no matter how many Goodfellow members respond to an incident, it is thanks to the quick and efficient actions of the Goodfellow responders and the existence of the MSCA that such emergencies are kept from escalating into larger ones.