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News | July 18, 2019

DLA Installation Management Susquehanna Fire and Emergency Services takes advantage of unique training opportunity

By Lt. Col. Ed Shank, DLA Distribution Public Affairs

As good stewards of the taxpayers’ dollars, the Defense Logistics Agency is always looking to fully utilize any and all materials on-hand before asking for more. From the paper used in office printers to propane tanks that fuel warehouse forklifts, DLA personnel are known for making the most of what they’re given.

One example of this “culture of frugality” can be seen in the recent demolition of base housing units at the agency’s Defense Distribution Center, New Cumberland. When the decision was made to divest the installation of its family housing mission, workers began pulling copper, aluminum and all other recyclable materials from the structures.

But one of the more creative ways to garner the last remaining use of the buildings came from the base fire department when they were given permission to set fire to two of the housing units in order to train their personnel.

For a short video clip of the controlled burn training, click here:

“We’re doing structural burn training, meaning we’re lighting a house on fire and then putting the fire out,” says John Fogg, Recue Company captain with the Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna Fire Department. “It allows them to get the most accurate scenario in real time where everything can be done that they normally do at a house fire without somebody’s life or property being on the line.”

As one of the few full-time (i.e., non-volunteer) fire departments in the New Cumberland, Pennsylvania, area, Fogg and his fellow firefighters often work with local companies, responding to emergencies throughout the Harrisburg area. So, when permission was granted to conduct a controlled burn on base, invitations were made to other units outside the installation. Several civilian departments jumped at the chance.

“Primarily it’s our own guys from Defense Distribution Center, Susquehanna Fire and Emergency Services, but then we also brought in some of our mutual-aid fire departments,” Fogg says, who was not surprised by the response. “This training is just as real as it can be without the unknown factor of somebody’s life being in danger.”

While this type of experience may be out of the ordinary, training with other departments is not. Not unlike military training, Fogg says preparation is the key to a successful mission.

“We have 45 total members of our fire department and then on duty every day we have a minimum of 13. So, every day here we’re training approximately 13 of our own guys plus whatever comes in mutual aid.”