National Guard firefighters headed home soon
June 20, 2013
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CENTENNIAL, Colo. (June 20, 2013) -- As the Black Forest fire reached 85 percent containment, June 18, Colorado National Guard firefighters were released from the fire line.
Fourteen Soldiers of the Colorado Army National Guard's 1157th Engineer Firefighter Company will soon return to their civilian jobs -- many as professional civilian firefighters and paramedics in communities across the state.
"We very much appreciate the experience and knowledge these Soldiers bring with them wherever they are assigned -- whether the Black Forest, High Park, or the many other fires and emergencies they respond to every day in their own communities," said Brig. Gen. Pete Byrne, commander of Joint Task Force - Centennial.
The 1157th firefighters, with the support of their tactical firefighting trucks and tenders, arrived in El Paso County, Colo., June 11 and began fighting the fire June 12.
Before heading home they will enter a recovery period that allows them to clean and maintain their equipment and to tend to administrative needs in preparation for their next assignment.
Still supporting the incident command team are the 120 members of Colorado's National Guard Reaction Force, who are still providing security at multiple checkpoints.
Also maintaining support are Airmen from Colorado's National Guard Communications Element, who are providing a phone and commercial Internet platform that allows communications for, and between, civilian and military authorities.
Colorado National Guard aviators and helicopters assigned to the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., were released from the incident June 15, after dropping more than 176,000 gallons of water on the fire and providing a command and control aircraft to support rotary-wing operations.
"When we call up these Soldiers to serve, we understand it takes them away from their civilian jobs and families, and that sacrifice is priceless," Byrne said. "As we release these men and women from their military obligations, we're simultaneously grateful to their employers and families for allowing these Soldiers and Airmen the time away from their normal lives to serve the Colorado community."