• BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe of Lisbon Falls, Maine, helps Sgt. Michael Kuca of Fairbanks, Alaska, put on a hazardous materials protection suit at the Iraq Civil Defense Directorate, here, July 27. Lowe, a chemical specialist assigned to Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Technical Escort Unit and Kuca, a civil affairs specialist assigned to the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, are part of a team of Soldiers tasked with training Iraqi firefighters in hazardous materials handling.

    BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe of Lisbon...

    BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe of Lisbon Falls, Maine, helps Sgt. Michael Kuca of Fairbanks, Alaska, put on a hazardous materials protection suit at the Iraq Civil Defense Directorate, here, July 27. Lowe, a chemical specialist assigned to Company...

  • BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe of Lisbon Falls, Maine, a chemical specialist assigned to Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Technical Escort Unit, demonstrates the proper way to remove a hazardous materials suit once the suit has been damaged and contaminated. Lowe pulls the hood away from Sgt. Michael Kuca so any liquid or solid contaminants fall away without touching Kuca's skin. Kuca is a civil affairs specialist from Fairbanks, Alaska, assigned to 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

    BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe of Lisbon...

    BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe of Lisbon Falls, Maine, a chemical specialist assigned to Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Technical Escort Unit, demonstrates the proper way to remove a hazardous materials suit once the suit has been damaged and...

  • BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt Gregory Lowe uses a blade to cut away the hood of a compromised contamination suit from Sgt. Michael Kuca, demonstrating the proper way to remove a hazardous materials suit once the suit has been contaminated. Lowe is a chemical specialist from Lisbon Falls, Maine, assigned to Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Technical Escort Unit, and Kuca is a civil affairs specialist assigned to 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. The Soldiers were training Iraqi firefighters in hazardous materials handling at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate here, July 26.

    BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt Gregory Lowe uses a blade...

    BAGHDAD - Staff Sgt Gregory Lowe uses a blade to cut away the hood of a compromised contamination suit from Sgt. Michael Kuca, demonstrating the proper way to remove a hazardous materials suit once the suit has been contaminated. Lowe is a chemical...

  • BAGHDAD - Salam Abdulla Mussin, an Iraqi firefighter, prepares to move Sgt. Michael Kuca as part of training to decontaminate a firefighter who has come into contact with hazardous materials at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate, here, July 26. Kuca, who is a wildland firefighter for the Department of Interior in Alaska, is a civil affairs specialist assigned to the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.

    BAGHDAD - Salam Abdulla Mussin, an Iraqi...

    BAGHDAD - Salam Abdulla Mussin, an Iraqi firefighter, prepares to move Sgt. Michael Kuca as part of training to decontaminate a firefighter who has come into contact with hazardous materials at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate, here, July 26. Kuca...

  • BAGHDAD - Sgt. Michael Kuca of Fairbanks, Alaska, a civil affairs specialist assigned to the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, helps an Iraqi firefighter egress from a hazardous material suit at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate, here, July 26, during hazardous materials training for Iraqi firefighters.

    BAGHDAD - Sgt. Michael Kuca of Fairbanks...

    BAGHDAD - Sgt. Michael Kuca of Fairbanks, Alaska, a civil affairs specialist assigned to the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, helps an Iraqi firefighter egress from a hazardous material suit at the Iraqi...

BAGHDAD - There are two lines of tape, one green and one red. Behind the red tape is a Soldier contaminated by a hazardous material. The Iraqi firefighters only have minutes to react, carefully moving the casualty, to the other side of the green tape, while at the same time remembering to clean from their own hands and suits' hazardous material.

It's up to the 425th Civil Affairs Battalion to show the Iraqi firemen the proper way to treat patients exposed to hazardous materials, while at the same setting up a decontamination site.

"Our goal is to limit the spread of contamination," Pfc. Daniel Oubre, a chemical specialist assigned to Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Technical Escort Unit, tells a class of Iraqi firefighters at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate, here, July 26. "By the end of this week, the firefighters will be able to set up, run and break down a decontamination site."

Another Soldier, Sgt. Michael Kuca, dressed in a puffy white decontamination suit and lays down on a stretcher, simulating a firefighter whose suit has torn, exposing him to hazardous materials. Staff Sgt. Gregory Lowe, of Lisbon Falls, Maine, a chemical specialist assigned to Company A, 110th Chemical Battalion, Technical Escort Unit and Oubre demonstrate the proper way to decontaminate Kuca by carefully folding the hood and sleeves of his suit so any solid or liquid contaminants pour away and then gently cut away the suit from his body. On the count of three, Lowe and Oubre lift Kuca's stretcher and carry him across the green tape - which marks the decontaminated area.

Kuca is a civil affairs specialist assigned to 425th Civil Affairs Battalion, 364th Civil Affairs Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division. Kuca's civil affairs unit has taken on the task of training Iraqi firefighters in a combat zone. Sgt. Maj. Garren Fulmer, a fire and emergency services advisor assigned to the 425th CA Bn., 364th CA Bde., 1st Cav. Div., said the team was assembled together with civil affairs and chemical Soldiers, with the blessing and support of Multi-National Division-Baghdad.

"This is the best mission in Baghdad," said Fulmer, who hails from Las Vegas. "My whole job the last seven months is to tell MND-B that fire exists and they need our help. I'm a strategic-level cheerleader."

The firefighters at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate have been unpaid volunteers for years, but are training as national firefighters, trained in all aspects of fire and rescue, said Fulmer. He said the program is designed to be "self-replicating."

"These are all 'train the trainer' classes," said Fulmer, an Army Reserve Soldier who has been a professional firefighter for 18 years. "Everybody who takes the class is expected to be able to train others at the same level."

The training at the Iraqi Civil Defense Directorate includes fire officer development, basic emergency medical technician, urban search and rescue, fire mechanics class and incident command systems. Hazardous materials handling is the most recent part of the training.

With help from a Provincial Reconstruction Team, Fulmer said his civil affairs team is able to train the Iraqis 40 at a time, for two months, without asking for any money from the Army.

"They tell us what they need and Kuca and I get the assets. If they don't have it, we find out who does," Fulmer said. "We are building capacity every day and we are doing it for free."

Fulmer said he is confident in the Iraqi firefighters he helped train.

"I would hire them back in the states. The students we've had are good people and they do well with the instruction," said Fulmer.

As Coalition forces continue to drawdown, they are leaving behind not only a more self-sufficient Iraqi military, but a more self-sufficient and highly-trained public safety agency.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16