180th Fighter Wing firefighters serve many roles in one week

SWANTON, Ohio (WTVG) - Two major fires in our community in just the last 72 hours have stretched area fire fighters pretty thin in the last few days. One department you'd probably not expect has played a major role in each one.

A cargo plane crashed just short of Toledo Express Airport Wednesday morning killing two people onboard. This happened in Springfield Township but that department was not the first firefighters on the scene. Those came next door at the 180th fighter wing.

About an hour into a huge fire at a recycling center in Delta Monday, the 180th fighter wing fire department was called to help. Those firefighters arrived back on base about 8 p.m. Tuesday. Six hours later was the first call for that plane crash and they were the closest fire crew and responded first.

"It's been an extraordinarily busy week," said Chief Brian Rozick and his team have mutual aid agreements with around 20 area fire departments. They'll go as far as Oregon, which they did in February when a freighter caught fire. They’ll respond in part because of their specialized equipment, like foam that's especially effective on fuel fires.
What's tricky here for the department sometimes is personnel. While they are firefighters, many on staff also serve in the military.

"We also have to balance that. They have a mission that they need to do with their military. At any given time we have any number of folks that are gone so it makes it even harder," said Chief Rozick.
"It's the best job ever, pretty much," said Bowsher High School graduate and Senior Airman Lamar Smith.

He does that double duty for a department that serves the airport, the base and the community.

"It's just a lot of responsibility on our shoulders which we deal with pretty well. We like the responsibility," said Smith.

180th firefighters train with community firefighters so when it's a real emergency, they are prepared.

"We get to participate with them and train with them more often so it really helps us when we go out to these other instances we can work well because we already know what to expect," said Captain Caleb Mock of the 180th Fire Department.

Last year alone, 180th staff members say they responded to about 100 off base mutual aid incidents.