Live fires "no match" for 445 CES

  • Published
  • By Capt. Elizabeth Caraway
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Members of the 445th Civil Engineer Fire and Emergency Services flight are better equipped to fight flames and handle emergencies after receiving valuable instruction at the Dayton Fire Department Training Center on June 1. Training included live structural fires, rope rescue, and for the first time, natural gas leaks.

During the exercises, 33 firefighters--including 20 brand-new to the career field--donned full gear to extinguish a live fire inside the burn building. Each firefighter remarked on the extreme heat inside the blazing structure, estimated between 600-800 degrees, as well as the complete darkness. The fire gear keeps each person at a safe and "cool" 100 degrees.

For the first time, our firefighters also trained using the Natural Gas Training Facility, practicing approaching the flaming gas leak with two sets of firefighters manning two hoses, while a firefighter in between the two reaches in to turn off the gas. This scenario is especially dangerous because the fire never actually goes out as long as the gas is flowing.

Senior Master Sgt. Mark Young, 445th deputy fire chief, explained that these hands-on exercises are especially critical for reservists.

"We don't often get the opportunity to do this live training and this is a chance for us to get out from behind computers and fight fires in a more realistic setting," Young said. "We can put our skills to practical application, which is really important to prepare for deployments."

The 445th firefighters were instructed in all the exercises by fire Capt. Larry Ables, Dayton Fire Department.

"They had a great attitude coming in and have been approaching every task with enthusiasm," said Ables. "They're doing a great job with this training."

If not for the use of the Dayton's fire training facility, 445 FES members would have to travel to live fire training, said Chief Master Sgt. Willie Hooper, 445th fire chief. "Using this facility saves the Air Force thousands of dollars and we benefit because it's a really high-quality facility."

The 13-acre Dayton Fire Training Center was one of the most cutting-edge in the nation when it opened in the 1960s, explained Ables, and remains a top-notch facility today. The training tower, built in 1964, is comprised of multiple floors for training in ladders and rappelling. The 445 firefighters underwent "Save Your Own" training in the tower; a firefighter simulated falling through a hole in the floor and had to be rescued by fellow Airmen with rope, or in one case, a length of looped fire hose.

All the firefighters said they learned something new during the course of the training and felt more prepared for future challenges.