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Structural Live Fire Exercise

McLAUGHLIN AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Charleston, W.Va -- Firefighters from the 130th Civil Engineering Squadron’s Fire and Emergency Services (FES) participated in an annual live fire training simulation Aug. 4th through 6th, 2017 at the Emergency Preparedness Training Center in Institute, W.Va.

Ranging in rank from Airman 1st Class to Chief Master Sergeant, the Airmen from the fire department completed a two-part training exercise covering numerous firefighting techniques imperative for success in their job.

“The first part was a behavioral lab, which is a flash over simulator where we put the students in a controlled environment so they are able to observe fire conditions as they grow through the various stages,” said Tech. Sgt. Jeffrey Elswick, 130th FES Assistant Chief of Training.

A flashover fire is the sudden involvement of a room or an area in flames from floor to ceiling caused by thermal radiation feedback, or complete coverage of a room in flames that happens at a very fast pace.

“The second part was the actual fire attack,” Elswick explained. “So, they broke into teams and advanced the hose line into a fire we built and used what they learned in the fire-behavioral lab and put it to use.”

Fire attacks are when the fire fighters take the offense to a fire using hoses from the engine, or a mixture of chemicals in tools such as a fire extinguisher, rather than fight from a distance, which can prove useful in house and structural fires.

Elswick explained that all the training was very productive and the students were lucky that they experienced good conditions and all the evolutions of the fires.

This simulation gave the 33 firefighters hands-on exposure to multiple progressions of structural fires that they may not experience often because of the fire prevention techniques that the military employs.

One of these techniques is self-safety, or knowing what areas of the fire are the least intense, have the most breathable air, and are the least hot throughout the burning structure.

Inside the structural fire simulation, the temperatures reach over 12,000 degrees Fahrenheit, but thanks to the self-safety techniques and training, the Airmen knew how to position themselves and only experienced exposure to about 400 degrees of the grueling heat.

These Airmen not only serve McLaughlin ANG Base, but neighboring Yeager Airport as well, functioning as the airport’s fire prevention, protection and emergency services.

“We don't see many structural fires on the base,” Elswick explained. “So, this [training] gives the guys an opportunity to maintain proficiency of skills in case of the event of a working fire on base.”

Elswick stressed the importance of skills proficiency training to ensure that the Airmen stay ready to go for any situation that may arise and applauded the FES for their hard work over the red-hot, three-day training exercise.
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