By Staff Sgt. Timothy Gray, 5th Armored Brigade
Fort Bliss, TX - Temperatures in El Paso have turned cooler recently, but it's hot as ever for firefighters who prepared for their upcoming middle-east deployment at White Sands Missile Range, N.M., October 21, 2019.
Elements of the 463rd Engineer Firefighter Detachment headquartered in Houston, Texas participated in post-mobilization validation before heading overseas. 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West partners with Reserve Component units to support combatant commander's worldwide requirements.
Capt. Dave Mosqueda, commander for the 463rd, said his unit may be headquartered in Texas, but most of his Soldiers are actually from some place much further away.
"We have two firefighter teams, both out of Wisconsin, that are 7 person teams, and each one is their own crew," said Mosqueda.
Frequently, Army Reserve units are stationed in separate places in the U.S. Combining Soldiers from these units that are spread across the country brings special challenges.
"Just like with any other team everybody kind of knows their roles," Mosqueda said. "When you start mixing up those teams or bringing somebody else new...a lot more communication needs to happen."
According to Sgt. First Class Eric Martinson, a fire chief and Observer, Coach/ Trainer assigned to 3rd Regiment, 410th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 5th Armored Brigade, First Army Division West, firefighter's career field in the Army is especially small. He said the familiarity that kind of size throughout the community can be very helpful.
"I've talked to most of these soldiers before, being an instructor," Martinson said. "They take the mentorship and words of advice and work it into their [Standard Operating Procedures]."
Another by-product of having such a close-knit group of peers is that change can be effected very quickly. During their time at Fort Bliss, Martinson observed this group of firefighters come into the light.
"There's a big improvement because, keep in mind, some of these guys have never worked together before," said Martinson. "There may be two or three detachments that are put together from different places throughout the country, so the difference between how they start the training here and how they finish is really night and day."
While here, these firefighters will show their proficiency at dealing with wheeled vehicle and airframe fires, building search and rescue operations, and structure fires. According to Mosqueda these tasks will be at least a part of their mission overseas, however Soldiers also perform routine functions to support the installation where they live.
Mosqueda noted that his back ground as an engineering officer gives him an opportunity to learn the finer points of firefighting from the NCOs in his formation. With their knowledge and expertise both he and his Soldiers are constantly refining aspects of firefighting that most people don't know exist.
"I think a lot of the civilians just think you put the wet stuff on the red stuff, and it's a lot more in depth than that," said Mosqueda.