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161st ARW Fire Department completes annual live fire training at Fort Smith

Members of the 161st ARW fire fighters pose for a group photo during training exercises at Ft. Smith.

Members of the 161st ARW fire fighters pose for a group photo during training exercises at Ft. Smith.

Sky Harbor Air National Guard -- The 161st Arizona Air National Guard Fire Department was deployed to the 188th Air National Guard, Fort Smith, Arkansas for required annual live fire training and Hazardous Materials Technician Certification March 26 through March 29.

The fire department training program is established to ensure that all personnel can operate in a safe and effective manner. The Training programs are developed and implemented in accordance with the Department of Defense Fire and Emergency Services Certification Program and the National Fire Codes.

It is critical that proficiency training is conducted on a recurring basis to maintain operational efficiency.

Aircraft Rescue Firefighting is a special category of firefighting that involves the response, hazard mitigation, evacuation and possible rescue of passengers and crew of an aircraft. Due to the mass casualty potential of an aviation emergency, the speed with which emergency response equipment and personnel arrive at the scene of the emergency is of paramount importance. Their arrival and initial mission to secure the aircraft against all hazards, particularly fire, increases the survivability of the passengers and crew on board.

Airport firefighters have advanced training in the application of firefighting foams, dry chemical and clean agents used to extinguish burning aviation fuel in and around an aircraft in order to maintain a path for evacuating passengers to exit the fire hazard area. Furthermore, should fire either be encountered in the cabin or extend there from an external fire, the ARFF responders must work to control/extinguish these fires as well.

The fundamental objectives of the 161st Air Refueling Wing Fire Protection and Emergency Services Program are to prevent loss of life, injury to personnel, and damage to Government property resulting from fires and other emergencies; and to provide cost-effective fire prevention, fire protection and emergency response services.

The Air Force and Air National Guard has adopted the National Fire Codes and the United Facilities Criteria (UFC) 3-600-01, formerly the Military Handbook 1008B, as the minimum fire protection criteria.

23 firefighters and eight civil engineering personnel were transported in a C-130 aircraft to Fort Smith by aircrew from the Nevada Air National Guard.

Upon arrival to Fort Smith, they were greeted and briefed by Master Sergeant Mike Moffet, Assistant Fire Chief of Training and other cadre personnel. Upon completion of the briefing they proceeded to the training site for some familiarization training on the Hazardous Materials Equipment and Training Site.
During the deployment, members of the 161st ARW fire department received valuable varied training.

First, deployed members received valuable live fire training, which provides the realism missing in other types of training. While this level of realism provides excellent training, it obviously carries with it most of the hazards of interior firefighting at an actual emergency. This type of training must be planned with great care and supervised closely by qualified instructional personnel. Building construction, building condition, type of aircraft, exposures, terrain, water supply and a multitude of other variables affect the safety of the participants. The on site judgment of qualified personnel will be the final factor in determining the safety of any specific situation.

In order for the 161st ARW firefighters to function as valuable members of the fire department, they must know how to keep themselves from becoming a liability on the fire ground. This type of live burn drill can help to develop the confidence that firefighters need to be proficient at their job.

Pre-burn classes were conducted to refresh member's memory on basic fire behavior, safety procedures, fire attack and fire ground operations in order to prepare them for a safe live burn drill.

Members also performed hazardous materials response training. All emergency response personnel performed to the technician level per NFPA 472 and 29 CFR 1910.120 and at the Incident Commander levels to provide Level 3 response per NFPA 471. Hazardous Materials Response Teams were equipped and performed in Level A personal protective equipment.

All emergency response personnel performed specialized ARFF to ensure they are properly trained for their rescue mission.

Driver/operators were trained and certified in the proper operation of the fire department vehicles for day time and night time operations.

Incident command procedures were utilized for all emergency incidents to provide for planned and systematic use of resources. Fire department members incorporated the ICS system with tactical benchmarks in all training evolutions to reinforce performance expectations during an actual event.

The training was split into three sessions.

The morning of 27 March 2009, the Hazardous Materials Response scenario was initiated, which included the performance testing of our three hazmat technician candidates and one hazmat incident commander candidate.

This scenario provided the hazmat technician candidates with the opportunity to apply training received to demonstrate knowledge, skills and abilities for offensive response tactics, Level-A dress out, use of instruments, tools and kits and decontamination. The scenario examined the three phases of the incident, from pre planning, through incident operations, to post-incident responsibilities.

In addition, the scenario provided the opportunity for the incident commander to understand and demonstrate the duties, responsibilities and liabilities of emergency responders to function offensively at the Technician level, which included regulations and standards, toxicology, gathering identification information, scene management, protective equipment, evaluating the situation, developing and implementing an action plan and decontamination. It also provided the opportunity to more effectively coordinate and integrate the incident beyond the initial response.

Once the Hazardous Materials scenario was completed members conducted exterior aircraft fire evolutions resulting in vehicle modulation training with a P-19 and C-130 aircraft mock up.

There was one person performance testing for ARFF Driver Operator and one person performance testing for Mobile Water Supply so re-servicing the P-19 during the evolutions was incorporated. The evolutions continued into the evening to fulfill the night requirement.

All deployed personnel rotated through the training exercises and received thorough hands on training with the P-19 apparatus resulting in completing the performance for that module.

On the morning of 28 March 2009, members conducted exterior and interior ARFF operations including attack line placement/operations, rapid intervention strategies, water supply, pump pressure management, ventilation, re-servicing air bottles and tactics and strategies. Crews were set up in teams of three and rotated through both positions of exterior and interior aircraft fire fighting

This was a very successful deployment for the 161st ANG Fire Department. The firefighters were commended by assigned fire personnel at Fort Smith ANG Base for their professionalism and positive attitude.

The personnel assigned to the Ft. Smith ANG base are to be commended for their professionalism and willingness to provide us with whatever resources were needed to ensure a successful outcome to our training. Deployed personnel were very grateful for the excellent training which was afforded to them and their fire ground skills improved even more because of this invaluable training.

The training evolutions provided all members with an opportunity to assess their current capabilities necessary to perform the critical tasks required to respond to ARFF and hazardous materials emergencies. Through assessment of those capabilities, participants identified strengths, weaknesses, and future training needs, individually and together.