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Rescue exchange: Firefighters train, build trust with Italian aircrews

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ramon A. Adelan
  • 407th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

SOUTHWEST ASIA— U.S. Air Force firefighters partner up with Italian air force (ITAF) members to trade knowledge of fire prevention, familiarization and conduct emergency exercises here at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group in Southwest Asia.

The training between the two units consists of familiarizing the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron (ECES) fire department of possible hazards associated with AMX and C-27 ITAF aircraft. And in return, the fire department provides ITAF personnel with fire prevention measures utilizing different types of extinguishers to coalition partners.

“This training is vital for the safety of the aircrews who work on or around the aircraft,” said Senior Master Sgt. Erik Lahoda, 407th ECES fire chief. “It provides them with the ability to effectively extinguish a fire in the incipient stage before responders arrive.”

The fire department has trained more than 250 personnel, who also includes Polish air force and U.S. Marine Corps personnel.

Additionally, the two units routinely train on aircraft egress, where a simulated in-flight emergency (IFE) occurs and the 407th AEG crash/fire rescue team secures the area and retrieves the aircrew.

“They simulate engine failure on their aircraft and call in an IFE to the control tower,” said Tech. Sgt. Joshua Myers, 407th ECES operations assistant fire chief. “From there the base defense operations center dispatches our first responders, which includes our rescue team.”

As the exercise is in motion, multiple agencies arrive on scene and all their training is put into action. The fire chief takes control of the operation and begins directing personnel to conduct proper procedures in this situation.

“Once we are there, we set up around the aircraft, evaluate to deem it fire safe and then make our move to enter the aircraft and rescue any victims,” Myers said.

The hours of training and time spent between U.S. service members and Coalition partners have progressively grown an unbreakable relationship. Before most training sessions, they socialize amongst each other; sharing stories, backgrounds and true Italian fashion: coffee.

“The relationship with the ITAF members has been a very unique experience,” said Senior Airman Julio Soza, 407th ECES firefighter. “We work closely with them and I now have a greater understanding of coalition partners working together and how we all contribute to the same mission.”