Bliss DES assets depart for Huachuca to assist Monument wildfire effort
June 23, 2011
FORT BLISS, Texas -- In what Col. Joseph Simonelli, Jr., Fort Bliss garrison commander, called a "complete garrison team mission," almost a half-dozen Fort Bliss firefighters and a 25-ton fire truck departed Bliss en route to Fort Huachuca, Ariz., June 23.
Bliss answered the call for support in cantonment operations as Huachuca firefighters are participating in off-post firefighting efforts in the face of the Monument wildfire that started almost a month ago. A day earlier, Bliss’ 93rd Military Police Battalion also sent more than 40 military police Soldiers in a similar effort to aid Huachuca’s own MP detachment there as they tackle more direct wildfire-intensive missions.
Ramon Ortega, Bliss’ deputy fire chief, said though their surroundings will be different, the Huachuca community should see a “seamless” change in fire and emergency service protection on their installation.
“They’re going to backfill and augment the Fort Huachuca Fire Department,” said Ortega, “and the good thing about the DoD is that all firefighters (regardless of where they work) are certified to the same level. They have the same functions more or less so we should be able to operate with them seamlessly.”
He added that his department’s high level of readiness was important in their ability to help their fellow firefighters in Arizona both quickly and professionally.
“It started with great work from our management staff,” said Ortega. “We finally got the official word, but we were already anticipating the type of things we were going to be asked to do. We asked for volunteers and in a short amount of time we had the right people needed to go on this mission. They lined up to volunteer and are ready to go.”
Simonelli said his post’s ability to efficiently mobilize for Huachuca involved proactivity and forethought from across Team Bliss.
“The Fort Huachuca garrison commander, Colonel Tim Faulkner, and I have actually been talking for several days about this,” said Simonelli. “Before he requested assistance we did a determination of what we could provide while still maintaining the safety and security of our post. This was a complete garrison team mission; DPTMS, via our IOC, was in daily contact with Huachuca as they monitored the situation and determined what they needed. DES quickly made the analysis of our capability and make our assets immediately available. Finally, our DOL made arrangements to line haul the fire truck; all this was been done simultaneously as the orders process was working the directive. So, when we received the orders it was ‘execute movement,’ not ‘prepare then execute.’”
Simonelli said the term “Team Bliss” is common language at his post and is the definition of the selfless service at the installation and the Huachuca effort is one example of how it doesn’t end there.
“The term ‘Team Bliss’ means more than what happens on our post,” he said. “It signifies the teamwork that is necessary to make us a great installation; that not only includes our physical post here in El Paso, but our methodology of working with other partners, be that the city, county, state, region or other installations.”
As firefighters and MPs continue to arrive in Arizona, he reflected on the work of Team Bliss in getting to Arizona quickly, the work ahead in support of operations at Huachuca, and the fact that Team Bliss is one of many great teams on a larger “Team Army.”
“That is what makes our profession the most honorable; we can count on each other and our professionals,” he said. “I know other installations would do the same for us in our need.”