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Firefighters: combating flames, forging bonds

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department put equipment away after aircraft live fire training, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Moody’s fire department and the VFD use similar equipment, which makes training and working together easier. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department put equipment away after aircraft live fire training, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Moody’s fire department and the VFD use similar equipment, which makes training and working together easier. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department listen to a mission brief during a walkthrough of the day’s events before aircraft live fire training April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Firefighters were able to see the inside of the training prop and received guidance on where the sources of the fires were, and what type of techniques to use while putting them out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department listen to a mission brief during a walkthrough of the day’s events before aircraft live fire training April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Firefighters were able to see the inside of the training prop and received guidance on where the sources of the fires were, and what type of techniques to use while putting them out. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

A firefighter douses a fire with water during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. In addition to combatting fires outside the prop aircraft, firefighters had to enter and combat the fires inside. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

A firefighter douses a fire with water during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. In addition to combatting fires outside the prop aircraft, firefighters had to enter and combat the fires inside. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Water flows out of a fire hose after aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. One critical part of a firefighter’s routine is maintaining equipment so it is always in working order. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Water flows out of a fire hose after aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. One critical part of a firefighter’s routine is maintaining equipment so it is always in working order. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department and Moody’s Civil Engineer Squadron practice water-spraying techniques during aircraft live fire training, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Firefighters are required to conduct this training twice a year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department and Moody’s Civil Engineer Squadron practice water-spraying techniques during aircraft live fire training, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Firefighters are required to conduct this training twice a year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Weaver, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection station chief, extinguishes an aircraft fire, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Moody’s fire department teams up with the Valdosta Fire Department twice a year to remain proficient on procedures and techniques used to put out aircraft fires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stephen Weaver, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection station chief, extinguishes an aircraft fire, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Moody’s fire department teams up with the Valdosta Fire Department twice a year to remain proficient on procedures and techniques used to put out aircraft fires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department rush towards a fire, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The Federal Aviation Administration requires VFD firefighters to complete aircraft live fire training twice a year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the Valdosta Fire Department rush towards a fire, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The Federal Aviation Administration requires VFD firefighters to complete aircraft live fire training twice a year. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Shelley Miller, Valdosta Fire Department sergeant, gears up during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Firefighters broke into groups and took turns combating the fire as they would in the field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Shelley Miller, Valdosta Fire Department sergeant, gears up during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Firefighters broke into groups and took turns combating the fire as they would in the field. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Janiqua P. Robinson/Released)

Firefighters from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron and the Valdosta Fire Department extinguish a fire during aircraft live fire training, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Moody’s firefighters maintain a working relationship with the VFD in order to know what to expect from each other when combatting a fire together in a real world situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)

Firefighters from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron and the Valdosta Fire Department extinguish a fire during aircraft live fire training, April 26, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Moody’s firefighters maintain a working relationship with the VFD in order to know what to expect from each other when combatting a fire together in a real world situation. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)

A firefighter from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron puts out an engine fire during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. During the training exercise, Airmen practiced the proper techniques to extinguish a jet fuel fire in the case of an aircraft incident. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)
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A firefighter from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron puts out an engine fire during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. During the training exercise, Airmen practiced the proper techniques to extinguish a jet fuel fire in the case of an aircraft incident. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)

Firefighters from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron and the Valdosta Fire Department smother a fire during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Aircraft live fire training is conducted twice a year to ensure Airmen are always prepared to combat aircraft fuel fires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)
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Firefighters from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron and the Valdosta Fire Department smother a fire during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Aircraft live fire training is conducted twice a year to ensure Airmen are always prepared to combat aircraft fuel fires. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)

Firefighters from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron and the Valdosta Fire Department put out an aircraft fire during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Airmen extinguished a controlled propane fire, in order to simulate a jet fuel fire in an aircraft crash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)
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Firefighters from the 23d Civil Engineer Squadron and the Valdosta Fire Department put out an aircraft fire during aircraft live fire training, April 27, 2016, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. Airmen extinguished a controlled propane fire, in order to simulate a jet fuel fire in an aircraft crash. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Hunter/Released)

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.