Nellis fire fighters support Red Flag

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Victoria Sneed
  • 99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The men and women of the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services flight have more than just structural fires and accidents to respond to. Throw in aircraft, pilots and jet fuel to the mix and that adds to the knowledge they're required to maintain in order to perform their job.

Large scale exercises like Red Flag, with more than 200 aircraft launches daily, bring challenges to the fire department such as more traffic and less commonly seen aircraft at Nellis AFB.

"We get to see every aircraft in the U.S. Air Force arsenal," said Master Sgt. Felsia Jones, 99th CES Fire Station 1 district chief. "We are also lucky enough to see many international aircraft and meet partner nation personnel."

Fire protection Airmen have to know every hazard associated with every aircraft that land at Nellis AFB. This includes how to safely remove the pilot, shut down the aircraft and how to extinguish different types of fires.

"We have technical orders for U.S. Air Force aircraft that we can reference," said Jones. "We have to partner with visiting foreign forces to learn new airframes, iron out terminology and hand signals to avoid any miscommunications."

These partnerships and constant training are essential for the fire protection Airmen's ability to respond in any situation.

"If the Airmen are familiar with what to expect and where things are, then they will be able to remain calm and make the right call in any emergency." said Jones.

With so many aircraft in motion in such a short amount of time, knowledge isn't the only thing these Airmen could use more of; time is also at a premium.

"Our call volume increases about 25 percent (during Red Flag exercises)," said John Beauchamp, Nellis AFB acting fire chief.

Fire protection Airmen here work 24 hours on duty followed by 24 hours off to respond to an array of calls. These calls could be an in-flight emergency, barrier removal and reset, standby for potentially hazardous maintenance or to recover an aircraft and medical emergencies. All of which the fire department normally responds.

One of the most common calls received at fire protection is to remove or reset aircraft barriers at the end of the active runways. Barriers are designed to stop fighter aircraft if they are unable to stop themselves. The barriers must be removed for the larger aircraft and reset once one takes off or lands.

"We have to reset the barriers up to 20 times a night during Red Flag in addition to all the other calls," said Jones.

Every fire protection Airman takes their duties of protecting and saving lives to heart.

"We come to work every day and try to provide the level of service the base deserves," said Jones. "We want everyone to feel safe."