Moody Air Force Base, Ga. --
Smoke billows into the air as flames char the land, fully engulfing everything in its path. Firefighters race to the scene and work quickly to get their hoses hooked up, protective gear on and ensure everything is functioning properly.
As they approach the aircraft, the burning jet fuel gives off an incredibly overwhelming heat. Breaking off into teams, they begin to combat the fire using techniques they’ve practiced many times before.
Moody’s 23d Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters and the Valdosta Fire Department practice techniques to extinguish the fires that could result after tragedies like this during live aircraft fire training, April 26-27, here.
“Training together helps us work better if something happens off this installation,” said Charlie Johnson, 23d CES assistant chief of training. “We need to have a good working relationship with Valdosta so we will be on the same page while combating those fires. That’s the benefit of having them out here with us.”
Training with live fire in a safe environment and combining the forces of firefighters, on base and in the local community, is beneficial to both sides, fostering a bond between the two departments.
“The proximity and willingness of Moody’s staff to allow us to come out here and train with their live fire prop is the reason we come,” said Carl Smith, Valdosta Fire Department training captain. “It’s wonderful for us and the biggest benefit is the camaraderie. We know these guys, and they know us. Training together gives us chances to interact.”
In order to maintain this relationship, the VFD comes to Moody twice a year, spring and winter, for live aircraft fire training.
“The realism of training with live fire lets the guys understand what their limitations are,” said Smith. “They see what they’re good at, what they need to practice on, and how to actually put out a live fire.”
Training supervisors work hard to ensure the scenarios and props are as realistic as possible but there are differences between what is used during training versus the real thing.
“The prop used at Moody is a propane prop that is controlled at all times by Chief Johnson,” Smith added. “He can turn it off in case of an emergency, but most of the structure burns that we do uptown are free burning. There is no shut off button on that.”
During a real aircraft fire, jet fuel would be burning instead of propane and firefighters would use foam to combat the flames instead of water. The prop’s realism makes it the closest these firefighters can get to the real thing and the familiarity the departments get out of working together is an added benefit.
“It’s always good to have them come out with us,” said Johnson. “We get familiar with their personnel and their equipment, so if we ever need to go off the installation, we know what they have and they know what we bring to the table.
“This training keeps our firefighters abreast on how to combat fuel fire dealing with aircraft,” added Johnson. “We need to know how to protect ourselves and how to properly combat those types of fires.”
Training together helps them perfect the techniques used to keep Moody and the local community safe and strengthens the bond between departments that allows them to work together efficiently.