By Tom McCollum/Fort Bragg Garrison PAOOctober 30, 2009
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Fort Bragg is home to not only Soldiers who readily deploy to crisis centers throughout the world, but to firefighters as well.
Four civilian firefighters from the post's fire department deployed to Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico Sunday to assist in fighting a massive explosion at a petroleum, oil and lubricant facility near the Army installation.
"This is what we do," said David Coleman, an eight-year veteran of Fort Bragg's fire department. "This is a once in a life time opportunity."
An explosion at the Caribbean Petroleum Corp's fuel tank storage site sent earthquake-force shock waves across Puerto Rico's capital on Friday and created a plume of thick black smoke that could be seen for miles.
Miraculously, no one was reported killed by the blast. The cause of the explosion is unknown.
The explosion at 12:30 a.m. registered the equivalent of a 2.8 magnitude earthquake at the Puerto Rico Seismic Network.
Fort Buchanan, located next to the storage facility sustained major damage. The post only has a single fire engine department and their firefighters were all recalled to fight the fire.
Coleman, along with fellow firefighters Donald Ramsey, Kevin Durham and Trent Strayer will be assisting the Buchanan department for about a week.
"We just wanted to give back to other firefighters during their crisis," said Ramsey who has been with Fort Bragg department for nine years and has deployed to fight fires on two other occasions.
Ten firefighters from Fort Bragg's fire department volunteered, but only four deployed.
"We had a lot of volunteers, but we could only send four in order to ensure Fort Bragg's department was able to continue to meet our mission," said Steven D. Blackburn, Fort Bragg's fire chief.
Ramsey, Durham, Coleman and Strayer all have experience fighting fuel fed fires, and are hazardous materials and emergency medical technician qualified.