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380AEW Article

New aircraft trainer allows firefighter cutting edge training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Kentavist P. Brackin
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Firefighters from the 380th Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron were presented a new piece of training equipment by the 380th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Fabrication Flight during a ribbon-cutting ceremony here, Feb. 19.

The fire department search and rescue aircraft trainer resembles the main body of a C-130 frame and serves as a multi-function trainer for entering and exiting a downed or damaged aircraft, packaging of a patient in a confined space and cutting into the frame of an aircraft.

Completion of the trainer means firefighters here can now practice cutting into the frame of an aircraft, an experience previously only known to be offered at their tech school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, TX. and in real life emergencies, according to Tech. Sgt. Scott.

“I’ve never seen another trainer like this, it’s always been fire trainers,” said Scott, a crash crew chief assigned to the 380 ECES Fire Department.

Aircraft fire trainers allow firefighters to simulate various situations involving fire onboard an aircraft and how to respond them.

“This new trainer gives us the opportunity to teach people how to use the saws, which is one of those perishable skills that if we don’t use it often we lose the ability to execute it with finesse,” he said.

The panels used on the trainer are replaceable, which means it can be repeatedly used by firefighters to keep their cutting skills sharp.

The initial idea for the project came about nearly two months ago when an “idea fairy” approached Scott with suggestions for developing the trainer.

From there he and his fire chief began researching the costs of such a project, drawing sketches of what firefighters had in mind and presenting them to Fabrication Airmen.

“When they first came to us with the idea we were pretty excited. We don’t normally make big things like this, just small repair, small weld jobs…making little tools, stuff like that,” said Staff Sgt. Brandon, a metals technology craftsman assigned to the 380 EMXS.

The project, something that had never been done by Fabrication Flight, gave the Airmen an opportunity to be creative, without the aid of blue prints, according to Brandon.

“We had a lot of welding time on this, with a lot of aluminum, which is one of the trickier metals to weld.”

If the aluminum is too hot, it will melt away and if it’s not hot enough it will remain a slug of metal, which means Fabrication Flight Airmen need adequate hands-on training with welding to complete such a project.

“It was a lot of good hands-on training, and if something happens to it they can bring it back to us so we can fix it back up,” he said.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, firefighters performed a training demonstration to show each of the three functions they planned to use the trainer for.

“We have one organization critically thinking about how they can take their training to the next level and then working seamlessly with another organization that showed incredible thinking about how they can design and build what the other organization needs,” said Maj. Sam, 380 EMXS commander. “You will not find a better example of that statement than what we have here today.”