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870th AES fire station receives new truck

The 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department and military community took part in a decades-old tradition and pushed a fire truck into its new home during a ceremony here Feb. 8.

U.S. and French Airmen push a P-18 Water Tanker into its new home during a ceremony at Chebelley Airfield, Djibouti, Feb. 8, 2019. Pushing a tanker into its spot is a decades-old tradition, and completed the transfer of the fire truck from the U.S. Navy to the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Coleman)

The 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department and military community took part in a decades-old tradition and pushed a fire truck into its new home during a ceremony here Feb. 8.

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Floyd Dawkins, 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department driver operator, talks to members of the French Air Force about specifications of the P-18 Water Tanker at Chebelley Airfield, Djibouti, Feb. 8, 2019. The U.S Air Force received the tanker from the U.S. Navy, increasing their capabilities to for fighting structural fires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Coleman) (Photo has been edited for security purposes.)

The 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department and military community took part in a decades-old tradition and pushed a fire truck into its new home during a ceremony here Feb. 8.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Sherwood, 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department crew chief, washes a P-18 Water Tanker, Chebelley Airfield, Djibouti, Feb. 8, 2019. The truck was officially transferred from the U.S. Navy at Camp Lemonnier and increasing their capabilities to fighting structural fires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Coleman)

The 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department and military community took part in a decades-old tradition and pushed a fire truck into its new home during a ceremony here Feb. 8.

The 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department conducts turnover for a shift change at Chebelley Airfield, Djibouti, Feb. 8, 2019. The department celebrated the arrival of the P-18 Water Tanker, which was officially transferred from the U.S. Navy at Camp Lemonnier to the unit that morning. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Rachelle Coleman)

CHEBELLEY AIRFIELD -- The 870th Air Expeditionary Squadron fire department and military community took part in a decades-old tradition and pushed a fire truck into its new home during a ceremony here Feb. 8.

According to Tech. Sgt. Kurt Trausch, 870th AES fire department assistant chief of operations, the tradition originated when fire departments used horses to take their pumpers out on calls. When they would return the horses couldn’t back in, so the the firemen would detach the horses and push the pumper back in.

In addition to upholding tradition, pushing the truck into its space signified the completion of the transfer of the U.S. Navy P-18 Water Tanker to the U.S. Air Force fire department at Chebelley Airfield. The tanker is capable of carrying 2,000 gallons of water, double the amount of the P-19 Crash Truck the department was using.

A crowd of U.S. and French firefighters, squadron and group leadership, civil engineers, and many other members from the military community gathered to celebrate the arrival of the new truck.

After the truck was in place, Trausch called the dispatch over his radio and announced, “Tender 15 is now in service.”

The 870th AES fire department’s priority is to respond to aircraft incidents, but the P-18 will allow them to be better prepared to respond to structural fires as well. At Chebelley, there are no fire hydrants, which means the firefighters have to bring the water they need to respond to emergencies. While the P-19 is effective for aircraft incidents, the P-18 can be set up in multiple configurations to carry more equipment.

“It increases our capability to get water quickly and effectively,” said Staff Sgt. Seth Massey, 870th AES fire department fire protection crew chief. “You can’t control them the same and there’s different requirements for a structural fire versus an aircraft fire. This new truck allows us to keep up with that standard.”

After identifying the unused truck in July 2018, the fire department worked with the 726th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron vehicle maintenance flight to transfer the truck from the Navy.

“This is a great win for Chebelley fire department, but this is a huge win for Chebelley base because of what it offers and the capabilities it offers to us to respond to any emergency response,” Trausch added.

As a result of the new arrival, the Chebelley firefighters are able to turn one of the P-19 crash fire trucks over to their sister squadron at Camp Simba in Manda Bay, Kenya.