Military News

Monday, October 19, 2015

Firefighters: Training to protect

by Airman Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/13/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Airmen jump to their feet as sirens blast throughout the building and proceed to their assigned trucks while a voice over head can be heard ...

"Alarm medical emergency"

Whether it's a real-world in-flight, medical, fire emergency or training for an emergency, this is the routine for the firefighters of the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department.

At their trucks, the airmen put on their boots, suits, gloves, and helmet in less than two minutes. Every second counts.

To ensure they're prepared for any type of situation, the roughly 70 firefighters conduct a daily, dynamic training regimen to protect the 13,000 personnel and more than 100 aircraft assigned.

"We prepare for any emergency on any given day," said Staff Sgt. Justin Fellure, 4th CES fire department crew chief.  "We switch up the type of training to meet our certifications and stay sharp, because one false move and we could end up hurting ourselves, a fellow firefighter, or the person we're trying to rescue."

Airmen conduct various types of training by using smoke machines in different buildings or rooms and placing obstacles to simulate real-world scenarios. They also practice with live fire drills, aircraft drills, and repelling. Repelling into a location may be needed when all exits are blocked and the only way out of a building is a window.

"We train, literally train every day," Fellure said. "As firefighters, we are required to maintain our certifications, so every day we're doing something, whether it's to do with firefighting, either structural or aircraft, medical emergencies, or technical rescues, like repelling to a victim."

Firefighters are on shift for 24 hours starting and ending at 7:30 a.m. The morning starts with firefighters checking their vehicles and equipment to make sure everything is good to go.

Once their equipment is inspected, the firefighters start their scheduled training.  Training is conducted in between emergency calls.

With two different wings at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the 4th Fighter Wing and 916th Air Refueling Wing, the 4th CES fire department host active duty and reserve firefighters.

The firefighters are trained to handle flight emergencies with both the F-15E Strike Eagle and KC-135R Stratotanker.

"We're kind of unique in that we deal with (two) commands, two wings, two separate missions, and only one fire department to handle it all," said Sean Quinby, 4th CES fire chief. "If it's on this base, we're responsible for it; the buildings, the aircraft, and the people."

With all the assets they protect and the long shifts, airmen in this career come to see their co-workers as a second family and develop what Fellure calls a "fiery bond."

"I love this job more than anything, I love training and bettering myself, along with training the younger airmen and helping make them better firefighters and airmen," Fellure said. "We're a family here, I see these guys as much as I see my own family, so we have to have a really tight bond."

Fellure and the rest of his team keep that family mentality with them when they respond to emergencies and even treat the victims like one of their own to make them feel more at ease.

"I have a huge passion for this job," Fellure said. "I love being there for the community, I go to them on their worst day and I want to be there to help them and make it a little better.

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