Joint fire training heats up on Andersen

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Divine Cox
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine firefighters from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan teamed up to participate in joint aircraft fire training at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The purpose of the joint training was to ensure the Marines maintained their airport certification to meet National Fire Protection Association, military, and Department of Defense standards.

The 36th Civil Engineer Squadron instructors have been providing this training to the Marines for the last five years.

“Over these past three months, we had the unique opportunity to train jointly with our Andersen brothers, said Cpl. John Whaley, firefighter assigned to Marine Wing Support Squadron 171. “Even though we are all firefighters and have the same job, when you take two different branches and you put them together, you can optimize training due to the fact that we each see and view techniques and tactics differently.”

Not only did the Marines take this opportunity to focus on familiarization training, they also leaned heavily on 36 CES firefighters to train them on the unfamiliar aspects of the job.

“We were able to do a lot of structural training that we normally don’t get back home,” said Whaley.” In Japan, we do a lot of aircraft rescue firefighting, so the structural training we were able to accomplish here gave us more hands on experience in case we have to do any structural firefighting in the future. The training Andersen provided helps us prepare for any situation that may arise.”

Part of the mission here at the 36th Wing is to strengthen regional and local partnerships, and the 36 CES instructors continues to make that happen throughout the Indo-Pacific.

“We typically conduct regional training monthly or upon request,” said Chris Pacificar, assistant fire chief assigned to the 36 CES. “We were doing joint training to help us share mutual operational knowledge and experiences with each other and sharpen our skills as firefighters. This training helped them accomplish and showcase their skills in a realistic environment.”

Pacificar stated that out of all the other years of training, this year offered the perfect scenario for joint fire training.

“Although the live fire training was for a day, the Marines did participate in other training scenarios throughout their time here,” said Pacificar. “While here, they were able to get familiarization training on the MQ-4 Triton, RQ-4 Global Hawk, KC-135 Stratotanker, and the B-52 Stratofortress. With all the exercises that were going on at the time, this was the perfect opportunity for them to train alongside us.”

Training is an ongoing practice in the military, but in today’s environment, it can also be challenging to accomplish.

“Obviously, COVID-19 does slow everything down, but at the end of the day, we all have one job to do,” said Whaley. “For us to continue to get the proper training that we need, we are taking the proper COVID-19 precautions to make sure we get the training to perform our job efficiently.”