Fort Meade leaders join post firefighters in local training exercise
November 23, 2011
- Fort Meade saves the federal government $80,000 to $100,000 a year in training dollars for using the facility, and there is no cost to the county.
FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. -- When Garrison Commander Col. Edward C. Rothstein emerged from a burn house at the Anne Arundel County Fire Department Training Academy in Millersville on Nov. 7, he was drenched in sweat, wearing full firefighter gear.
"It's obvious to me that [Fort Meade firefighters] are very well trained," Rothstein said. "It's an absolute thumbs up."
Rothstein joined Deputy Garrison Commander John Moeller; Lt. Col. Howard Yates, director of the Directorate of Emergency Services; Maj. J. Darrell Sides, operations officer at DES; and Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Charles E. Smith in participating in several training exercises at the facility. The senior leaders all dressed in fire-fighting gear.
Moeller, who said he enjoyed the training exercise, had served as a volunteer firefighter in Prince William County, Va., from 1996 to 2006.
"I miss it," he said. "It's a great profession."
The Fort Meade Fire Department and the Anne Arundel County Fire Department are partners in an automatic aid agreement that allows post firefighters to use the facility for training twice a year.
The agreement, which has been in force for more than 20 years, also allows each fire department to respond to respective fire and emergency calls in the county and on Fort Meade.
"We save the federal government $80,000 to $100,000 a year in training dollars [for using the facility]," said Deputy Chief Bruce Smith of the Fort Meade Fire Department. "And there is no cost to the county."
Fort Meade Fire Chief E.J. Rouvet said the agreement "saves lives and property" for county citizens and Fort Meade residents.
Rouvet said 30 percent of the fire calls that are dispatched to the fire department come from the county. As a result, Fort Meade's firefighters respond to calls in Jessup, Odenton, Maryland City and other locations.
Rouvet said it is convenient for the county to rely on Fort Meade firefighters who are close to the scene of nearby fires and have the experience to handle diverse emergencies.
Fort Meade also can provide a fully staffed fire crew, while nearby volunteer fire crews may only have two firefighters to respond to an emergency.
"It's an excellent opportunity for our department," said Division Chief Michael Cox, spokesperson for the Anne Arundel County Fire Department.
"It's a win-win."
Allowing Fort Meade firefighters to train at the county facility enables them to "get hands-on experience," said Cox.
Firefighters from the installation have also served as instructors at the facility.
In addition, said Cox, county firefighters respond to fires on the installation if Fort Meade firefighters are not available or more staffing is needed.
For example, Cox said county firefighters responded to the six-alarm fire that broke out in October 2006 in the offices of the 902nd Military Intelligence Group on Llewellyn Avenue.
For more than five years, Smith, along with other deputy fire chiefs from the county and state jurisdictions, has attended a quarterly meeting to discuss emergency response policies for each fire department.
He said the training exercise in Millersville was important because it gave Rothstein "the opportunity to see what we do day-to-day to protect his installation."