NEWS | Oct. 24, 2011

U.S., Honduran firefighters partner during fire prevention week

By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Airmen from the 612th Air Base Squadron's fire department hosted a fire muster challenge here, Oct. 21, to culminate a week of fire prevention activities between local Hondurans and U.S. servicemembers.

During the muster, Honduran firefighters and Soto Cano Air Base servicemembers competed in six events simulating basic firefighting skills.

The competition included a relay litter carry, a hoisting and chopping simulation, a bunker-gear run, a hose drag and a water bucket carry event.

"This event was held to build camaraderie between the base populace and the Honduran firefighters," said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Nix, 612th ABS assistance chief of fire prevention.

The 612th ABS firefighters didn't participate in the contest, but were on hand to provide assistance and firefighting tips to nearly 45 local Honduran firefighters and more than 30 Soto Cano members.

"There was a good turnout for this event and this helps build a good rapport," Sergeant Nix said. "And this also lets the locals know we are here to help."

In the spirit of partnerships, other fire prevention week events included a parade in nearby Comayagua featuring Honduran and U.S. firefighters, local policemen and a Comayagua high school band.

The parade was followed by fire safety training to more than 95 local kindergarten children who were bused in to the 612th ABS's firehouse at Soto Cano AB.

"As a coordinator for the events during fire prevention week, it was a privilege to be able to get everything together and teach fire prevention and protection to the local populace," Sergeant Nix said.

Mr. Gilbert Gecko, a chief fire inspector and liaison for the Honduran fire departments, worked with the base community for nearly ten years and can testify to the importance of fire prevention week.

"These events help firefighters understand and save live by preventing fires, not just putting them out," Mr. Gecko said. "By preventing fires through education, it helps control the damage - especially in poor communities that don't have the proper fire insurance coverage."

"When the U.S. and Honduran firefighters work together like this it helps us respond together as a team because we know one another," Mr. Gecko said.

Mr. Gecko said he witnessed U.S. and Honduran firemen fighting fires side-by-side and observed them responding to flood situations and medical evacuations.

"We should always continue this friendship and keep an outstanding relationship between each other," he said.