VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Fire Prevention Week not only highlights fire safety, but the work that Vandenberg’s firefighters put in every day.
In addition to working with fire prevention, Vandenberg’s firefighters also help put fires out quickly and efficiently as well as working with Santa Barbara County to keep the base and the community safe and fire-free.
“We have an overall responsibility to enhance the fire safety and prevent any fires from happening,” said John Cunningham, a Vandenberg Air Force Base fire inspector. “It is an all-encompassing job.”
On the daily basis, Vandenberg’s firefighters work to ensure the base is free of fire risks.
“Myself and the rest of the fire prevention team go all over the base,” said Cunningham. “We go through buildings and assess fire safety and look for any discrepancies. If there is anything that can be conducive to starting a fire we correct it.”
Along with checking for hazards, the team also ensures that any activities that could potentially risk fire safety are documented.
“We do work permits whenever contractors want to do any kind of brazing, welding, or cutting,” said Cunningham. “Usually around wildland, brush, or launch facilities.”
Due to Vandenberg’s many unique qualities, firefighters are faced with a variety of obstacles when ensuring fire safety.
“There are many challenges here that you don’t see at other bases because of our mission and being a launch base,” said Robert Edwards, a Vandenberg Air Force Base fire inspector. “With our launches and wildland there’s almost always something going on.”
In addition to firefighting, Vandenberg’s fire department is equipped with water rescue and urban search and rescue teams to serve the base and county.
“Our urban search and rescue team deployed to Monecito during the mudslides and actively helped out with rescue efforts,” said Cunningham. “We work very closely with Santa Barbara County, so we are a part of their task force whenever there are fires or natural disasters.”
The hard work put in to keep Vandenberg and Santa Barbara County safe has brought the firefighters closer as a team.
“All of us, from the youngest Airman coming straight out of tech school, all the way up to the fire chief have all had similar experiences and have one thing in common- that we are all firefighters,” said Cunningham. “We are like a family.”
For more information on fire safety, please contact the base fire department at (805)-606-4680.