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Team Andersen Fire and Emergency Services hone their abilities

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Courtney Witt
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Firefighters must be able to think clearly, critically, and solve problems quickly under extreme stressful situations. That is why Andersen Airmen from the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services Flight conducted live fire drills here Oct. 24 through 27 to keep their skills sharp and ready for real world situations. 

According to U.S. Air Force regulations firefighters must perform live fire training annually; however, Andersen's Fire Chief John Thompson believes his firemen should train on a quarterly basis. 

"Air Force firefighters at other bases have the advantage of having one or two assigned aircraft to train on and become experts in," he said. "Andersen firefighters have to be proficient on dozens of DoD airframes that frequent our base. So live fire training only once a year is not sufficient to keep our skills to the high levels we need them to operate at." 

Live-fire training allows firefighters the opportunity to challenge themselves through realistic scenarios designed to train everyone from the newest Airman in the squadron to seasoned veterans. According to Andersen's Fire Chief Thompson, repeated exposure helps firefighters develop good habits and build tactical strategies that help during real world scenarios. 

"No firefighter in the history of the Air Force had experience fighting a B-2 fire," Fire Chief Thompson said. "Andersen firefighters used their experiences from live fire training to know what to do during the chaotic events that occurred that day. " 

One type of live fire training the firefighters on Andersen use is the aircraft fire trainer. The $2.1 million trainer looks like a large frame aircraft and offers a range of fire and major incident training scenarios. According to Senior Airman Matthew Derheim, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron, to ensure safety an operator controls the propane-fueled fire from a nearby tower. 

The aircraft fire trainer allows the Airmen to train for a variety of fires they may experience while working on an Air Force base, Airman Derheim said. During the training, the firefighters may find themselves fighting a ground, wing and engine fire, a wheel well and brake fire, an interior cabin fire, cockpit, battery, cargo or a combination that could include all elements. 

"The simulator resembles a variety of large and small frame aircraft," said Staff Sgt. Tagalog, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron. "We can incorporate different scenarios so that firefighters will have the training and knowledge needed for real-world emergency that they could possibly encounter," he avowed. 

The idea is to show the young firefighters what they are up against in a safe and controlled training environment so when the unthinkable does happen on our watch, like a B-2 crash, they have the experience on their side, Fire Chief Thompson said. 

"Live fire training is critical to our ability to protect the U.S. Air Force's Global Strike capability in the Western Pacific," he added.

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