Story by A1C Helena Owens on 05/29/2019Joint Base Charleston's fire department teamed with the Crash Fire Rescue Marines from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C., to conduct Joint Mobile Aircraft Fire Training May 27-31, 2019, at JB Charleston's Fire Department training grounds.
This training not only fulfilled an annual requirement for mission capable firefighters but it also highlighted the importance of collaboration between joint mission partners throughout the Lowcountry. Air Force firefighters are required to maintain a status of resource and training report and annual proficiency training in live aircraft firefighting.
"We try to provide the most realistic training that we can," said Master Sgt. Ryan Vargas, assistant chief of training for the 628th Civil Engineer Squadron. "It keeps our military firefighters refreshed and mission ready to perform the job downrange."
JB Charleston is required to conduct this training annually but the Fire Department tries to do it as often as possible to stay up to speed on their training and skills.
"I think it's important to have this training so we can stay fresh and sharp on what we learn from tech school," said Senior Airman Nathan Warczok, a firefighter assigned to the 628th CES. "If we didn't do this, it would probably be years and years before we ever used those skills."
During the training, firefighters split up into groups of three and ran through different fire scenarios. The groups are usually lead by a fairly new airman followed by more experienced
firefighters who talk them through the process.
"We don't get a lot of time to train on actual aircraft fires," said Warczok. "So this is a good time to come out and get down and dirty figuring out what to do when a real world situation arises."
All of the military branches' firefighters go to the same technical school. They don't get to train with each other often, but each service joins their local civilian fire department for training and collaboration.
"We train with other branches to learn this job starting off, but after that we rarely get to train with any other branches," said Cpl. Anthony Imperato, a crash fire rescueman attached to Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, S.C. "It's an awesome experience to get to come out here and train with the Air Force and see their style of firefighting compared to the Marine Corps."
JB Charleston has mutual aid agreements with all of the local fire departments in the surrounding counties. This means if one of the local fire departments needs assistance with an emergent situation JB Charleston firefighters will respond and vice versa.
"The local fire departments right outside of base will occasionally call us to help them with a fire they have," said Vargas. "And if we request it they will absolutely do the same for us."
In conclusion, this annual training provides firefighters the refresher they need to continue to keep their base and the surrounding areas safe from aircraft and structural fires.