MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
Eighteen Air National Guard firefighters from the 153rd Airlift Wing in Cheyenne, Wyoming, visited MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, to participate in a joint-training exercise with 6th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters, March 4-7.
The joint firefighting training emphasized repelling and technical rescue skills, fire ground tactics, fire suppression, live-fire drills, vehicle extrication and aircraft familiarization.
“We are hosting a weeklong joint-training exercise with the Wyoming Air National Guard to enhance skill-sets and build proficiency,” said Master Sgt. Aaron Fernaays, the 6th CES Fire and Emergency Services Flight training chief. “While the primary purpose is to prepare for operations in a deployed environment, it is a great way for our two units to build a partnership and share experience throughout a wide range of expertise.”
The 153rd AW firefighters do not have KC-10 Extender or KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft stationed at their base, but when they deploy next year, these are two types of aircraft they need to be able to support.
“For our next deployment, the KC-135 and KC-10 aircraft are both scheduled to be stationed nearby with us,” said Staff Sgt. Beau Murphy, a 153rd AW firefighter. “This training gives us a great opportunity to work with other fire departments, learn how they operate, see their equipment and learn about the aircraft that we are deploying with.”
Fernaays added that there are times when firefighters may deploy to locations with assigned aircraft they are not familiar with from their home station or previous assignments and in those instances, they have to rely on their aircraft familiarization training once they are called into action.
“When our firefighters respond to an aircraft, they don’t just shut engines down,” said Fernaays. “They will perform a wide range of tasks depending on the situation and these tasks could include chocking wheels to prevent the aircraft from moving, entering the aircraft, securing hazards, extinguishing fire, ventilating smoke, activating installed fire suppression systems, isolating power and/or fuel systems and egressing aircrew and passengers.”
With many possibilities that could create a fiery outcome in a deployed environment, when in the heat of the moment, firefighters must rely on their training to simply get the job done.
“Being a part of a guard unit, we all have such diverse jobs and skill-sets outside of the military,” said Murphy. “I’m a full-time paramedic, but we also have emergency medical technicians and others who work in a hospital setting, so it is definitely beneficial for us to come out here and get into a firefighting mentality in preparation for a deployment.”
Murphy has been on two previous deployments, but for some of their firefighters, this is scheduled to be their first deployment experience.
Murphy added, “The best experience a firefighter can get outside of their deployment is training in real-world environments and simulating deployment scenarios like the ones we encountered here.”