BUTLERVILLE, Ind., - Wearing several different hats is nothing unfamiliar to firefighters at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center. Not only does the MUTC team work at the military training site as firefighters, trainers and rescuers, they also work with local community fire departments to provide assistant when needed.
Firefighters at MUTC have mutual aid agreements with the surrounding local fire departments to help expand their capabilities and personnel. The agreement states that MUTC firefighters will help out local community fire departments when training at Muscatatuck permits. In return, local fire departments lend aide to the MUTC fire department. The agreement enables a full firefighting staff to be able to respond to any given emergency.
"Nobody in any given spot around here has the man power to fight a major structure fire," said Dean Lucas, the MUTC fire chief. "So everybody works and pools together to gain the man power and resources to fight the fire."
"We are a group of fire departments that are banding together through the fire associate to act as a fire district," he said. "This way, we can draw people from up to 25 miles away and anybody in this area is 20 minutes away from getting help."
Although they are at a military training site, the firefighters are not made up of servicemembers. They are civilian volunteer firefighters who work as state employees at Muscatatuck.
The diversity of the crew is more than the locations each person came from. The firemen at the MUTC fire department possess a wide range of capabilities that benefit local civilians and training military personnel.
Of the seven firemen at MUTC, five are emergency medical technicians and two are first responders. Additionally, five of the seven firefighters are qualified to fight aircraft fires, making the MUTC fire department the only department in the area that is aircraft trained.
"We don't get a lot of flights in and out during regular days, but when we have training going on, such as we did with Ardent Sentry [joint service training exercise] in May 2007, we had about 40 flights come in and out daily," said Lucas. "We were qualified and able to be here to teach people what to do in case of any emergency."
Lucas said that main focus of the MUTC firefighters is to train themselves and others to respond to emergencies, such as aircraft fires. He added that the military pilots were eager to help out with the fire fighting training efforts.
"When the pilots help us out, we get better training," said Lucas. "And since pilots are usually here during military training, it gives us a chance to teach Soldiers what to do in case of an aircraft fire."
Along with the training opportunities, working at Muscatatuck provided the firefighters with other benefits, such as interacting with community organizations.
"We have created great relationships with the local departments," said Lucas. "They have provided great support and have even loaned us equipment."
Lucas said that the relationships with the local departments also brought the public eye to Muscatatuck.
"It's great to have the public see what we do and how we can help them," he said.
The department has many resources at hand to assist with emergency and rescue efforts for MUTC and local communities. Having just received a boat, the fire fighting crew plans to expand rescue efforts to accommodate anything that might happen on the 150 acre reservoir at Muscatatuck.
"Even though the lake is on Muscatatuck property, we have it open to civilians. Because of this, we are working with Muscatatuck operations to fix up a boat and get trained to be aquatic rescuers," said Lucas.
Lucas said the MUTC fire department is working to expand to continue assisting anyone within their reach in any way possible. He said his department continues and will continue to work through bonds, partnerships and agreements to ensure the safety of servicemembers and civilians alike.
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