U.S. firefighters bring fight to Afghanistan
February 20, 2011
MULTI-NATIONAL BASE TARIN KOT, Afghanistan - On Sep. 11, 2001 a series of terrorist attacks brought down the Twin Towers killing thousands of innocent people including hundreds of New York City firefighters.
Almost ten years later, U.S. firefighters are still carrying on the memory of their fallen brothers and fighting against terrorism in Afghanistan alongside all of the coalition's military forces.
A group of 22 firefighters from all over the country have joined together to form the Tarin Kot Fire Department and support the mission in Afghanistan.
The TKFD provides fire protection for every nation on Multi-National Base Tarin Kot and provides assistance during rocket attacks, vehicle accidents and medical emergencies.
"It lets the Soldiers do what Soldiers do," said George J. Chambers III, chief of the TKFD and Hillsboro, Tenn. native. "Some people may think I'm nuts, but I like what I'm doing and I get to serve my country again."
Chambers is a retired Air Force firefighter and has been in Afghanistan since Oct. 2010, when the group of U.S. firefighters took over the fire department from the Dutch.
Dominic Ahmee, a firefighter on Chambers' crew recalled one of the biggest fires they put out, just two weeks after arriving in Afghanistan.
"A bunch of [Afghan National Army] tents had caught on fire," said the Kailua Kona, Hawaii native. "We did a quick offensive on it with Army firefighters hitting it from one side with roof turrets while the rest of our fighters attacked the other side putting out spot fires."
With a quick effort from both teams, the fire was extinguished just moments before a tent with the unit's mortar rounds caught fire.
"If that would have caught, it would have been a bad day," said Chambers.
Besides fighting fires, the TKFD also participates in humanitarian efforts. Any time an Afghan child becomes injured, members of the TKFD will go to the hospital and bring them toys as part of a Toys-For-Tots program.
Ahmee said it's amazing to see how much of an impact something so small can have on someone.
The firefighters also donate their own clothing to wounded Afghans who come through the hospital, said Michael Muston, a firefighter for TKFD and Austin, Texas native.
"When some of the wounded come in they have pretty much all their stuff cut off of them," said Muston, a former Army Reserve firefighter. "Just being able to help them out that way is a big thing."
Despite all of the action and activity, the best part of his job is when he can go to bed at night knowing nobody got hurt that day, said Chambers.
"When everybody comes home with ten fingers and ten toes, I can rest easy and we can wake up do it all over again," he said.