445th CES battles flames in live-fire training event

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Patrick O'Reilly
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Eight members of the 445th Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services teamed up with the 788th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department for a live-fire training exercise, Sept. 9, 2022.

Mr. Bryan Weeks, assistant chief of training for the 788th CES fire department, fire and emergency services, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, develops a plan to train the 445th CES on structural and aircraft live-fire training.

“We create a scenario, do a safety brief, walk through the structures for familiarity, and then ignite the fire and use different techniques and objectives to meet the criteria to fight a live structural fire,” said Weeks. “Typically, we want to do at least two live-fire trainings annually which is difficult for reservists, but doing this gives them the requirement of having completed the training.”

“We practiced on structural fire and victim removal and then we worked on aircraft fire,” said Senior Airman Alex Walker, 445th CES firefighter. “We don’t get to do it as often, so today I learned a lot.”

For some 445th CES firefighters participating in the training event, it was a new learning experience.

Master Sgt. Nicholas Behr, 445th CES assistant fire chief, explained that these hands-on exercises are important for the new Airmen.

“Today we teach the new guys some new techniques,” said Behr. “We have some new guys here that are fresh out of technical school within the past month or two. They have not seen Class A fires which in this case are wood pallets and hay. They have been training on propane fires which react totally different,” Behr said.

“In technical school, we practiced on only propane fires and here we used straw and wood in one of the scenarios to get a feel for what a house fire is like.” said Walker.

According to Weeks, the outdoor temperature during training was approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit, however, the internal temperatures of the live-fire structures; one fueled by propane and one by straw and wood, can reach 1,000 to 1,200 degrees.

The training exposes the firefighters to heat and smoke as well as low- to zero-visibility, which overloads the senses and makes them revert to the training learned over the years to accomplish the objectives set forth, said Weeks.

“We’re working on maintaining proficiency; securing water supply from fire hydrants; pulling hand lines; making an initial fire attack; and sending crews in to do search and rescue to recover victims,” said Behr.

The firefighters were evaluated on their approach and techniques used in two scenarios:

entering a building, engulfed with fire and smoke made by straw and wooden pallets; and a mock aircraft set ablaze using propane. They were tasked to extinguish the fire to fulfill annual training requirements.

“Life, safety and fire extinguishment is the ultimate goal,” said Weeks. “Then we try to protect the property.”

The training exercise benefited both forces. Firefighters from the 445th CES had the opportunity of being exposed to actual structural fires and gained more confidence, and the 788th CES observed and learned how another department trained and tackled various scenarios.

“Having the opportunity to have the 445th CES come out here and train and conduct live-fire training is a benefit not only for them, but it also allows us to see different views ways of doing firefighting so we can learn from them as well,” said Weeks. “Everybody should be learning from everybody.

Weeks added that teamwork for the exercise included help from an 88th Aerospace Medicine Squadron medical technician in case any real-world medical issues occurred.