Regardless of the uniform we wear: 628th CES Fire Department

By Airman 1st Class Gage Rodriguez | Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs | Dec. 9, 2020

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. —

The 628th Civil Engineer Squadron supports many different missions here at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. The Fire Department on base consists of 57 military and 52 civilian members that work together to ensure the people of Joint Base Charleston are safe and protected from any immediate danger.

Christopher Swift, a driver operator working with the 628th CES, is always ensuring the mission is complete.

“As a driver operator I’m making sure I understand how to operate the apparatus we have and also understand the proper placements at each emergency,” said Swift.

Despite the title of driver operator, Swift wears many hats and is somewhat of a hybrid firefighter which allows him to perform in many different roles on a day to day basis to support whatever the mission entails.   

“Sometimes I’m the driver operator, sometimes I’m the crew chief and sometimes I perform the role of station chief,” said Swift.

Swift described that being flexible and adaptive to any situation allows his team and him to excel in any emergency that may present itself.

“We don’t know what our task is from day to day,” said Swift. “We always have to be prepared for the unexpected.”

 To keep the members of the 628th CES Fire Department prepared for any emergency that may take place on Joint Base Charleston, it is imperative for them to always be training for any situation that could arise. For Swift, training is a key component in awareness and readiness.  

“It’s very important to me as a civilian especially in a leadership role, to assist Airmen and NCOs in their forward progression training,” said Swift. “Airmen are looking up to us to show leadership and guidance from our experience to help make them better, and ultimately make the Air Force better.”

Swift takes pride in being a leader and constantly helping to develop young Airmen into being the best they can. Swift previously had four years of experience within the Coast Guard and can relate to those that don the uniform he doesn’t wear.

“I was involved with the military twelve years ago myself,” said Swift. “The biggest reason I want to continue to maintain a great relationship with military members is knowing that we’re all one, regardless of the uniform we wear.”

 Mark Dodson, assistant chief of operations at the Joint Base Charleston Fire Department describes Christopher Swift as an incredibly valuable asset to the team.

“Christopher Swift comes into work every day with a non-stop tempo and work ethic, and he takes all 14 years of his firefighting experience that he’s had and applies it every single day,” said Dodson.

Dodson mentions that one of Swift’s favorite things to do is train those underneath him to be able to operate the way he does with the department. Like Swift, Dodson is also a civilian fire department member and mentions how critical it is for civilians to work amongst the military.

“The civilian member’s primary duty on our base is to train our military members to be able to deploy and conduct the fire department operations at a deployed location,” said Dodson. “The civilians will maintain the Joint Base Fire Department readiness and protect the community so that it’s still here when the military members return.”

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