Lt. Col. George Brown is a man on a mission, and if he’s successful, it’s one that could put both him and his staff out of a job.
“When people think about emergency services, they normally think about us after an event has already started. It can be any type of bad incident like a fire, assault or robbery, and we respond,” said Brown, the director of emergency services for U.S. Army Garrison Kaiserslautern. “However, just like the Army, as a whole we like to try and work ourselves out of a job. It would be great if the world didn’t need an Army. It would also be great if the world didn’t need police. The only way to do that is to not just respond to incidences, but to try and prevent them before they even happen.”
Brown and his staff have loaned their time and talents to a series of community projects, or “good news” stories as Brown likes to call them, that are designed to help more community members become proactive in preventing incidents. One of the major areas the team is focused on is fire prevention.
“We started on a lot of projects on a lot of different levels, from having elementary kids come over to the fire station and giving them a little training on what to do in an emergency, all the way to the supervisors who are the fire marshals for their organizations, and ensuring that they know what they’re supposed to be doing to keep everyone safe and everything else in between,” Brown said.
Members of the DES have always participated in outreach efforts. Some of their most recent events include supporting Month of the Military Child activities in Miesau and Kaiserslautern, fire truck drivers’ training at Sembach, youth fire brigade fire extinguisher training at the Germersheim Army Depot Fire Department, Feuerwehr May Day in Morlautern and hosting the first official fire station captains’ meeting in Miesau.
“This is normal for us. It’s one of those things that’s kind of behind the scenes. Most of the things that make the news are bad. It’s bad news, not good news. That’s why I’ve kind of said, these are the good news stories, and here’s what we’re doing to keep the bad things from happening.”
His accomplice in these efforts is Jürgen Stegner, the garrison’s fire chief.
“We are very proud of our educational program, because our belief is that when you start with them early, they will have good behavior,” Stegner said. The chief oversees seven different fire departments located in Heidelberg, Mannheim, Sembach, Miesau, Germersheim, Kaiserslautern-East and Baumholder.
“Our focus is our customers. We are out here 24/7 to help our customers and to keep our Americans, our local nationals and civilians fire safe. We protect them 365 days a year,” Stegner said.
Brown has also enlisted the help of German and Air Force firefighters to participate in the ongoing projects. He described the relation-ship as “absolutely critical.”
“It’s a beautiful blend between us, a trifecta if you will. We support each other without any hesitation. It’s completely seamless,” he said. “I can tell you that often times people talk about the brotherhood or sisterhood of firemen within a certain town in the U.S. That translates over here, too. When you see an American or German firefighter, they are all the same people, and they relate to that brotherhood.
“Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job,” Brown continued. “So, no matter how good we may be at responding to any type of emergency, we’re going to do everything we can to ensure that emergency never happens.”