• Service members, firefighters take challenge

  • The Fort Leavenworth Fire Department may have come out on top in the Combined Arms Center/Special Troops Battalion Joint Military/Fire Department Leadership Challenge May 17 at Hunt Lodge, but the experience of the competition proved to be about more than just a trophy.

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    The Fort Leavenworth Fire Department may have come out on top in the Combined Arms Center/Special Troops Battalion Joint Military/Fire Department Leadership Challenge May 17 at Hunt Lodge, but the experience of the competition proved to be about more than just a trophy.
    Fort Leavenworth Fire and Emergency Services firefighters, soldiers, one airman and one sailor were put into three teams of five for a team-building event that allowed them to become better acquainted with the sister services and organizations.
    “Some of us have never had the opportunity to meet other branches or work with them,” said Sgt. 1st Class Steven Colon, STB, CAC, who coordinated the event. “I thought why not have this opportunity to not only meet each other, but be engaged in some physical activity where we’ll be able to share our personalities, emotions and some of our language.”
    The challenge began with a litter carry from Hunt Lodge up to the All-Hazards Training Center and a simulated victim rescue from a burning car before executing the staircase challenge in which participants climbed the four-story fire tower. At the top, participants had to raise and lower a coiled fire hose before making their way back down to the bottom. The final competitor on each team also had to don firefighter equipment for their trek up the stairs.
    Team Fire — FLFD Capt. Mark Weishaubt, firefighters Bryant Hall, Branon Ward and Rennell Pitts, as well as Sgt. Kyle Kloeckl, 67th Military Police Detachment, (Military Working Dog), STB — came in first, completing the challenge in 10 minutes and five seconds.
    Weishaubt said it was good to work with the different service members.
    “If we have an incident on post, we could rely on them for help and support because it is a small post,” he said. “Our manning is usually 13, and if we had a big incident we would be hard-pressed to complete our mission without utilizing them.
    “We work hand-in-hand with the (Department of Emergency Services), the police department and the (Military Police), so it is good for us to work with them,” he said. “We don’t work so much with the Army soldiers, but this is still a good way for us to meet and start a rapport with them in case we see them on post or we need to have them help us.”
    Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Elijah Bennett, administrative supervisor, Command and General Staff Collage Navy element, said the event offered perspective.
    “You get to know your peers, get to know different leadership styles, get to know people that are like you but with a different background and perspective of how the team works together as a whole and completes the mission,” Bennett said. “Being Navy, we have our fair share of challenges, but this is a different set of hurdles and challenges amongst the firefighters and the Army who do the ground-pounding day to day.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Air Force Tech Sgt. Eric Grande, Detachment 1, 505th Command and Control Wing, said the event proved the importance of every service’s job.
    “We all have different goals as far as the different branches,” Grande said. “It gives us a better understanding of what everybody’s occupation is, what their mission is and their objectives, and how we can help them and benefit from each other and come together as a group.
    “It is important because we have a little bit of every service at different bases,” he said. “(The event) gives us more time with each other, (helps) us know where everyone works on base, and we can network a little bit.”
    Sgt. 1st Class Cliff Hurd, STB, CAC, said the event established that familiarization needed if the different services were to come together for a future mission.
    “(The challenge) builds camaraderie amongst the different branches and organizations,” Hurd said. “We all have our strengths no matter what our branch or organization is, and we can definitely help each other out. What they know, they can bring to the table and teach and make us better.”
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