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NEWS | March 11, 2010

Indiana firefighter protects base, Airmen

By Story by Staff Sgt. Lindsey Maurice 386th Air Expeditionary Wing

SOUTHWEST ASIA - With the alarm sounding and 60 seconds on the clock, Senior Airman Joshua Wolff must be fully geared and heading to the truck to leave the station.

As a crash and fire rescue firefighter with the 122nd Fighter Wing of the Indiana Air National Guard, Wolff is no stranger to emergency response.

Currently deployed with the 386th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia, Wolff said staying vigilant and flexible is a natural part of his work life and one he takes seriously, especially here on his first deployment.

"This is a very physical job," said Wolff. "You have to be ready to work no matter what hour of the day; and when called upon, perform your job without hesitation."

"The fire department is vital to the mission here," he said. "Hundreds of aircraft fly in and out of the base each month and they need adequate fire protection, not to mention fire protection for all the buildings on base people live and work out of."

Wolff and the rest of the 386th ECES Fire Department have a key role in all in-flight, ground, structural and medical emergencies on base, which can be challenging both mentally and physically.

"It can be stressful at times, but it's a very rewarding career field," he said. "We play hard, but we work even harder. We are always training on different aircraft, different structures, etc. - trying to be prepared for any situation."

Wolff said one of the best aspects of being a firefighter is the unit cohesion within the fire department.

"There is a brotherhood among firefighters that I haven't seen anywhere else," he said. "We have to live together and trust each other with our lives."

The three-year Air Force veteran said that while the days seem to run longer downrange, he is enjoying the experience and some of the liberties available at his deployed location.

"This is my first deployment and I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it is here," he said. "I love the fact that I have internet and can talk to my wife almost every day. I figured that I would have to go weeks without hearing her voice and it makes it a lot easier to talk to her regularly."

He said he also enjoys watching movies at the base theater and playing intramural sports in his limited downtime.

"I spend a lot of time in the base theater and on the sport fields when I can," he said. "I've always been interested in playing sports and enjoy doing so every chance I get. Plus, in my career field, it's important to stay in shape."

Wolff said that while it can be challenging at times being so far from home, he understands the importance of his mission downrange.

"Deploying is something we need to do," he said. "We're here to try and keep peace and order in a region that is very sustainable right now. I wish we didn't have to be here, but I think it's essential."