Fairchild, Spokane regional emergency responders work together
By Senior Airman Ryan Lackey, 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published November 16, 2018
FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Representatives of multiple emergency response services from Spokane and nearby areas met with their Team Fairchild counterparts here for a local emergency planning meeting Nov. 7, 2018.
The Spokane Local Emergency Planning Committee is a gathering of specialists from government agencies, local industries, environmental groups and others that work together in forming plans and policies that aim to protect communities and the environment from the effects of hazardous incidents.
“We decided to host the meeting at Fairchild to show what we offer for disaster response,” said Maj. Tiffany Helene, 92nd Medical Group Bioenvironmental Squadron commander. “We’ve been a part of the LEPC for years now, working as back-up for local communities.”
The LEPC rotates their monthly meeting locations and Team Fairchild took the opportunity to host the meeting here to showcase the base’s Emergency Operations Center and demonstrate the specialized equipment used to respond to hazardous incidents.
“Emergency responders, both civilian and Airmen, are similar in their duties,” said Master Sgt. Andres Steevens, 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department assistant fire chief. “However, we’re manned and equipped to handle a single base, whereas they have more manpower and equipment as they must handle a much larger area than we do.”
Fairchild Air Force Base is the largest air refueling site in the world and it’s focused on supporting aircraft, military resources and Airmen. However, the unique equipment and specializations the base supports can prove useful or even vital beyond the base in some instances, Helene said.
In years past, Fairchild firefighters have supported local efforts to suppress yearly wildfires across the region and also responded to a dangerous chlorine gas leak at Pacific Steel in August of 2015, which was contained by a joint response of Airmen and local HAZMAT teams.
“It’s good to have these LEPC meetings,” Steevens said. “From experience, working with our civilian counterparts only helps bolster that confidence and support the base uniquely shares with Spokane and its residents.”
Team Fairchild enjoys supporting the community, the base cannot always go it alone when a serious situation occurs on base. When the base needs additional assistance during certain emergencies, they reach out to the local community for back-up, a two-way street of support.
“It’s rare for a base to have such an open agreement of support with a local community,” Helene said. “It’s truly exciting to have that bond here and to meet and engage with our civilian counterparts. We hope to continue engaging with them and perpetuate our mutual agreements of support.”
Team Fairchild and the LEPC are persistently planning ahead for the next potential emergency, not a question of if, but of when and being ready for it. Local partnerships enhance the Air Force’s ability to complete the mission and to fly, fight and win both at home and around the globe. Just one more example of Ready Airmen … and Civilians … Now.