Hancock Field Provides Fire Services

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Barbara Olney
  • 174th Attack Wing

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing now has a full-time federal fire department located on Hancock Field Air National Guard Base.

“A fire department on our Air National Guard base not only services an incident with an aircraft but it also provides services to the rest of our installation in terms of fire protection and medical response,” said Col. Michael Adamitis, the 174th Mission Support Group commander.

In previous years when Hancock Field had manned aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, the fire department was funded by New York State. Full-time state fire fighters were crucial to an aircraft crash response due to the fact that the aircraft was manned by a pilot.

When the base changed its mission from F-16 to unmanned MQ-9 Reapers, there was no longer a need for the crash rescue mission and it was eliminated. The fire department closed in 2014 with installation fire and medical support provided from the local Syracuse community.

The new manning is the result of a Department of Defense instruction that establishes policy and provides procedures for the fire and emergency service (DoD F&ES) program.

An inspection determined that the local fire department didn’t comply with the DoD standard for fire emergency responses within seven minutes.  

“We were told we did not comply,” said Jeffrey Chrissley, the fire chief. “We need to have them here in seven minutes and volunteer fire departments can’t do it.”

The fire department is now a 24-hour operation and all full-time firefighters are civilians. The 174th Attack Wing also has military firefighters who drill on the weekend. Having a full-time fire department will allow for guardsmen to be trained more efficiently.

“We have Title 5 firefighters now,” Chrissley said. “We are authorized for 21 and funded for 18. Currently, we have 12 full-time and 27 Guardsmen.”

“Having a full-time staff here will assist them on drill weekends and during annual training because full-time staff can help them become more proficient,” said Senior Master Sgt. Steven Coffey, from the 174th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Prior to this Airmen would have to go to other sites to keep their training proficient, Coffey explained.

Prior to the full-time Fire Department, members would reach out to other air bases to complete their required training tasks. Now full-time members can help Guardsmen fulfill that requirement and maintain proficiency.

“The fire station has completely turned around,” said Airman Anthony Latessa, a Guardsmen who recently completed his 14-week long course at the Fire Academy in San Angelo, Texas.

The fire station is similar to a typical household. It contains a kitchen, dinette area, day room and sleeping quarters to support the 24/7 mission of first responders.

“Everything is being utilized such as the kitchen and beds. The trucks are being used and inspected every day,” Latessa said.