445th CES trains for ORI

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Santana Austin
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 445th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters trained for the 2013 Operational Readiness Inspection by practicing aircraft rescue operations on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft here Oct. 15.

The training consisted of shutdown procedures, the deployment of fire extinguishing systems and egress practice, where the firefighters extract people from downed aircraft. The firefighters also analyzed the aircraft to predict what emergencies could occur in the different areas of the plane and discussed options for those contingencies.

"What we're doing is going over the safety of the aircraft and conducting practice rescue operations," said Senior Master Sgt. Mark Young, 445th CES deputy fire chief. "These C-17s are new to the unit and we need to be ready for anything that could go wrong during an emergency."

To further enhance operational readiness, firefighters were trained on duty stations other than their primary one to ensure success should an emergency occur. The troops were taught proper procedure both inside and outside the classroom. Then they donned their firefighting equipment and applied the skills they learned to a realistic scenario.

During an exercise such as this, the trainers want to simulate a real aircraft fire as realistically as possible to gauge how the trainees will respond without damaging the aircraft.

"When we have all our gear on, including our masks and bottles of compressed air, we're almost like turtles with shells on our backs," said Master Sgt. Barry Nichols, 445th CES assistant chief of operations. "The gear makes it very hard to move in tight spaces. We don't want to damage the aircraft, so we're not wearing it today."

According to Nichols, the bottles of compressed air that are used by the 445th firefighters are larger than what most municipalities use since the unit here also responds to hazardous materials fires. Another piece of equipment in the CES's arsenal is the water tanker, used for when the team doesn't have access to fire hydrants. The tanker enables the crew to conduct operations in a wider variety of environments.

"Each and every one of us needs to be able to use and maintain all these pieces of equipment," said Nichols. "Anything that can go wrong more than likely will, which is why we train the way we do."