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380AEW Article

Trial by fire: 380 AEW Airmen spend day immersed in fire training

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Preston Webb
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Airmen from various units experienced a day in the life of a firefighter as part of the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department’s immersion program July 28, 2017, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates.

“There might be that person out there that’s very interested in this career field but just hasn’t had an experience or person that gets them to change career fields,” said Staff Sgt. Brian, 380 ECES FD firefighter and crash truck crew chief. “It’s a hard process, but if I can do it, you can do it. So, I always want to make sure Airmen have that opportunity.”

Staff Sgt. Stephen, 380th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft armament systems technician, claims he was expecting an “old school” briefing and tour. However, he said he was pleasantly surprised the program was so in-depth.

“They were able to show us hands-on experience from the day-to-day life of a firefighter,” Stephen said. “They took us through training in real life situations all the way to actual critical operations.”

Airmen started the day alongside firefighters at roll call before receiving a tour of a firetruck. From there, participants were lent a set of gear, and underwent timed bunker drills trying to dress themselves. While in full personal protective equipment, air pack included, Airmen then extinguished simulated fires with a real firehose for a hands-on experience.

“I have to give them props, the heat was a major challenge for me today,” Stephen said. “The fact that they’re willing to put that gear on, especially here where the temperature ranges between 90 and 120 degrees some days, it takes guts.”

Inside a simulated building fire created in close quarters with a smoke machine, Airmen retrieved a casualty under smoke conditions approximately one-eighth as thick as a standard fire. To round out the day, Airmen were granted the opportunity to extinguish a simulated aircraft fire with a firetruck.

“Instead of looking from the outside in, I was able to step into their shoes,” Stephen said. “I’d like to thank each and every one of them for what they do. It takes a lot of mental and physical endurance to be a firefighter.”

This was the second immersion held by the 380 ECES FD, and slots are currently available for the third.

“If anyone’s interested in becoming a firefighter, whether in the military or back home, they’re more than welcome to stop by the fire station and chat with one of us,” Brian said. “We like to keep the mentality that we’re here to serve the public, so the door’s always open.”