Firefighter Heads to Iraq

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

July 11, 2005

The fighting will be similar, but the location is much more dangerous as a local firefighter heads to Iraq.

Captain Robert Jennette of the Seminole Trail Fire Department has dedicated his life to helping others--beginning as the youngest volunteer on the rescue squad at 16. Now he is taking that dedication with him to Iraq.

"[I plan on] getting experience and meeting people from all over the country. [I want to] see how they fight fire, because every place you go is different and [uses] different techniques," said Jennette.

He will be a lieutenant, which puts him in a leadership role.

"He's an incredible leader. He's really calm all the time and he's always willing to let you know how you can improve and how you can do better," said Jonathan Huang of the Seminole Trail Fire Department.

"Tireless is the way I would describe him. Always training, wants to train the firefighters here, likes to get involved in projects and get things done," said Chief Doug Smythers of the Seminole Trail Fire Department.

Jennette will be performing basic firefighter duties when overseas--the only difference is that he will be in a different environment, namely a war zone.

Firefighters do not know where they will be stationed until they arrive, nor do they know the stability--so Jennette's friends and family offered advise.

"They just told me to stay safe and keep my head down," said Jennette.

In a tour of the firehouse, Jennette paused when he reached the cots.

"Some of the places they sleep in [are] tents and a cot. I don't think any of them will be [as nice as those in the firehouse]. The nice thing is the tents are air-conditioned, though" he said.

When explaining what he should pack, Jennette said, "a lot of people want to bring their laptop computers and cell phones and things like that and [ask] 'will it work?'," said Jennette. "And guys are just like--look, bring a pair of pants, bring two shirts and a pair of socks and you'll get everything else when you get here."

Jennette leaves on July 18th for a year, but says he will take the experiences he learned here with him.

"You always hear about the family and the brotherhood of the fire department and this department really reflects that," Jennette said.

There are already hundreds of firefighters in Iraq, many taking on the task of fighting oil fires.

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