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Ready to Respond: Travis AFB enhances Northern California emergency response capabilities

Firefighters assigned to the 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight conduct vehicle checks Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The FES flight provides emergency response support at Travis AFB and across Solano County. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Firefighters assigned to the 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight conduct vehicle checks Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The FES flight provides emergency response support at Travis AFB and across Solano County. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Senior Airman Jeremy Miller, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight firefighter, conducts an equipment check inside a firetruck Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. With the start of every shift, the FES flight conducts inspections on more than 1,000 items including vehicles, protective equipment and hardware. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Senior Airman Jeremy Miller, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight firefighter, conducts an equipment check inside a firetruck Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. With the start of every shift, the FES flight conducts inspections on more than 1,000 items including vehicles, protective equipment and hardware. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

David Silva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight engineer, conducts a check on equipment outside a firetruck Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. With the start of every shift, the FES flight conducts inspections on more than 1,000 items including vehicles, protective equipment and hardware. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

David Silva, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight engineer, conducts a check on equipment outside a firetruck Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. With the start of every shift, the FES flight conducts inspections on more than 1,000 items including vehicles, protective equipment and hardware. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Senior Airman Juner Tenorio, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight driver operator, performs an operational check on a firetruck Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. With the start of every shift, the FES flight conducts inspections on more than 1,000 items including vehicles, protective equipment and hardware.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

Senior Airman Juner Tenorio, 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight driver operator, performs an operational check on a firetruck Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. With the start of every shift, the FES flight conducts inspections on more than 1,000 items including vehicles, protective equipment and hardware. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

A 4,000 gallon water tender assigned to the 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight undergoes an inspection Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The FES team provides emergency response support at Travis AFB and across Solano County. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

A 4,000 gallon water tender assigned to the 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight undergoes an inspection Oct. 29, 2019, at Travis Air Force Base, California. The FES team provides emergency response support at Travis AFB and across Solano County. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. James Hodgman)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – “Everything is on fire!” shouted a 5-year-old girl from the backseat as her mother drove the family car across the Carquinez Bridge near Vallejo, California.

Flames were visible on both sides of the bridge and smoke soon engulfed the car. Burning debris fell in front of the vehicle.

The mother gripped the steering wheel, assured her daughter everything would be all right and hit the gas, speeding out of danger.

This scene was the reality for hundreds of commuters who found themselves on the Carquinez Bridge, a pair of parallel bridges spanning the Carquinez Strait at the northeastern end of San Francisco Bay, Oct. 27 as the Vallejo Glen Cove Fire threatened the surrounding area. The blaze began at approximately 9 a.m., burning about 150 acres and jumped Interstate 80, shutting down the highway for five hours.

Firefighters from numerous fire departments battled the blaze, including members of the 60th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services flight. The FES team assisted with three support requests Oct. 27 by dispatching one of their 4,000 gallon water tenders to support firefighting efforts in three cities culminating with the Glen Cove Fire.

“I was dispatched to a wildland fire near Brannan Island recreation Area in Rio Vista, California, at 4 a.m. and I supported another grass fire call at Cement Hill Road and Peabody Road in Fairfield, California, after that,” said 60th CES Fire Capt. Melvin Self. “The Rio Vista fire was about 50 acres in size and I resupplied the Rio Vista Fire Department and the Montezuma FD with water. I did the same for the Fairfield FD.”

Once Self was released from the Fairfield fire, he returned to Travis AFB to refill the water tender. Once that was complete, he enjoyed a cup of coffee, but wasn’t allowed to get too comfortable as he was soon on his way to support efforts to extinguish the Glen Cove Fire.

“We met up with the incident commander near the toll plaza and we were assigned to the Maritime Academy on the west side of the Carquinez Bridge,” Self said. “We resupplied firefighters from CalFire, Vallejo and Benicia with water.”

“Later we were reassigned to the East side of the bridge, which was being worked by firefighters from Suisun City, and we cleared the East side of Eastbound I-80 just past the toll plaza to about 40 feet up the embankment to ensure the fire was out,” Self said.

The 60th CES FES team has mutual aid agreements with every city in Solano County and is often called upon for a variety of support including assistance with firefighting efforts, as well as medical and hazardous material responses. Since Jan. 1, 2019, the flight has responded to 607 calls, including 258 medical responses, 50 mutual aid requests and 24 aircraft incidents.

“Being able to help someone means everything. It’s what we do,” said Self. “We want to help people and we have no problem putting our lives on the line for that purpose.”

To ensure each member of the FES team is ready for nearly any situation, the team trains on a monthly basis.

“We complete a variety of training every month according to our schedule to maintain our qualifications and proficiency,” said Staff Sgt. James Muncy, 60th CES FES Engine-45 crew chief.

That training includes realistic scenarios firefighters may experience such as structural and wildland fires, simulated HAZMAT spills and medical emergencies.

“It’s extremely important we are ready at all times because anything can happen at all hours so we need to be ready for anything 24/7,” said Muncy. “That’s why we carefully inspect all our equipment, trucks and take our training seriously.

“I had no idea that today (Oct. 29), I would be called to the scene of an infant who was having difficulty breathing, but I did just that,” he added. “We are prepared to respond 24/7, 365 days a year whether that’s on base, in Solano County or at deployed locations around the world. We take great pride in our job and in the communities we serve.”

The 60th CES FES team consists of about 70 people with roughly two dozen firefighters working each shift. The team also has the capability to respond to any hazard.

“We are an all-hazards department, which means we respond to every type of emergency and we are part of Solano County’s HAZMAT response team,” said 60th CES FES Fire Capt. Chris Muriset. “We are required to maintain that certification at all times.”

One service that’s in high demand is medical response assistance, Muriset said.

“We’ve supported numerous medical requests, including about 10 CPR calls since I’ve been here,” he said. “About three years ago, I was part of a team that helped deliver a baby in base housing. A couple months back, I responded to a medical call for a lieutenant colonel who collapsed while running the third lap of his fitness test. We took over CPR, set up IVs and continued CPR until the medics were on scene. I then drove the ambulance that transported him to David Grant USAF Medical Center.”

Providing emergency services and supporting the community is rewarding, Muncy said.

“There is nothing better than going on a call and knowing that you possibly saved someone’s life or made their day better,” he said. “When we respond, it’s often during someone’s worst moment, so being a part of the team that helps them means everything.”

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#TeamTravis, as we enter wildfire season you may have seen news reports about PG&E Public Safety Shutoffs. Public Safety Shutoffs are preemptive/deliberate power outages during high heat, low humidity and high wind periods where the fire risk due to a downed power line is high. Currently, Travis AFB has been categorized as a Tier 1 fire risk, which is the most unlikely tier to be de-energized due to fire risk and we are currently NOT expecting to be affected by a public safety power shutoff. Should we receive a notification from PG&E of a public safety power shutoff we will provide notifications via AdHoc (PLEASE make sure you've updated your information on the new system) and Balfour Beatty's "One Call Now" service. Informally, we will also post our Facebook and Twitter (@Travis60AMW) feeds. Thank you and #NoBounds!
"It hasn’t always been this easy. I grew up in small-town east Texas and enlisted in the United States Air Force when Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (DADT) was alive and well. For many years, I experienced a great deal of societal pressure to quell a fundamental part of myself in order to succeed. As a young Airman, I never felt completely relaxed, almost as if I had to keep looking over my shoulder, and the paranoia of losing my career–my livelihood–prohibited me from fully engaging with my new Air Force family. I don’t need to tell you about how deeply loneliness and feelings of alienation can affect a person. It ultimately led me to self-report suicidal ideations because I couldn’t find a way to reconcile being a service member and being gay. If it wasn’t for the few allies who believed I belonged in the our Air Force, despite my identity, I’m not sure where I’d be. Those leaders carried me through my turbulent, formative years until I was able to finally breathe. Though throughout that time I made my fair share of mistakes, and certainly gave my supervisor some unique challenges, I was gifted with the opportunity to show the Air Force my cards as an 11-month formal investigation into my sexual identity was terminated following the complete repeal of DADT. On September 20, 2011, I skipped throughout my building high-fiving everyone I saw without saying a word as to why. I have been high-fiving as many Airmen I can every September 20th since then. It’s my own special holiday. I had won… but what was I to do with myself now? The universe had given me a chance to become a whole new Airman and I decided that I wasn’t going to waste it. Since then, I’ve strived to be the best Airman I can be. I volunteered to serve as a Military Training Instructor, I’ve helped organize several military Pride month events, and I’ve sincerely tried to live up to our Core Values. The freedom to be who I am has given me the freedom to fly, fight, and win. I will never forget, nor be able to completely thank, all of the people who helped get me here. However, more importantly, I will never stop advocating for the importance of diversity and acceptance in our Air Force because I know what both sides of that spectrum can do to a person. Pride month isn’t about celebrating individual preferences. It’s about celebrating inclusiveness and how when we practice it, it makes us all better versions of ourselves. We are a mightier Air Force when we show our Pride." —Tech. Sgt. Shannon Ouimet-Amaro, 60th Air Mobility Wing executive assistant to the command chief #HumansOfTravis #LoveIsLove #Pride2019 #🏳️‍🌈
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