Bradley J Bowling

Stripes Korea

CAMP WALKER, South Korea -- Fire can destroy all the things we cherish. However, to help protect us from disaster, firefighters work around the clock. Needless to say, who it is that oversees the complete operations of a fire department is of great importance. For U.S. Army Garrison Daegu and Area IV community, Fire Chief Bradley J. Bowling is that guy.

"I was excited to get the chance to be here. I knew some of the old chiefs, so I've been down to Daegu a couple of times, and heard a lot of good things," said Bowling, the Area IV Fire Chief who joined the USAG Daegu community a few short months ago.

Bowling, a veteran firefighter, comes to Daegu with a lot of experience and a well-rounded career. Throughout his career, he has held all the positions and grades one can have in his profession. From a rookie fire fighter, he moved on to train enthusiastically and continually to become a fire chief in Puerto Rico, and sometime later, the Deputy Fire Chief in Yongsan, where he served the past seven years.

"Once you get to be a chief, the biggest thing that you must have is responsibility," said Bowling. A true leader, he emphasized a responsibility for his team as the answer on the virtue of a chief. Said Bowling, "When fire fighters, who worry about doing his job, are out on the floor they pull hoses and do what they are told. When someone gets up to the assistant chief level, they worry about their stations. If you want to get to be a chief, you've got to worry about everything -- including prevention, training, and crew. You could feel the pressure and the responsibility that you didn't have before."

The fire chief went on to add the importance of team mentality. "I've really got to groom my guys and make sure to have a good team, because, it is also a position that I can't do by myself. There's no way I can run this department without these guys. I have to learn how to use them to the best advantage," he said.

As most of his Daegu firemen are Korean, Bowling expressed how the biggest challenge for him initially, were the language and culture barrier. But, rather than focusing on the difficulties, he praised his Korean team for their professionalism.

"Our crew is great. They meet the same certifications and standards like any other fire fighters that work in a Federal environment. Other than some of the language issues, I can take them to any base, and they will be fine."

Bowling strongly emphasized the issue of continuity. "These guys have been here for years. That's a huge benefit. If it wasn't for these guys, I couldn't start working on any project. They are professionals."

Few, if any would argue the importance of firemen who take on tough jobs under the worst circumstances. Safety, experience, and professionalism are critical to what they do. Bowling said that being a firefighter is a physically demanding job and sometimes they have to risk their lives.

"Even so, it's a great job. We are heavily involved in the community. We teach people proper fire safety techniques --which hopefully will prevent them from having to go through fire themselves. This really speaks to the importance of fire fighters, and the dedication of a good crew," said Bowling.

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