Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point --
The heat rises as the fuel spill ignites into flames. Flames rise and begin to surround the structure, and only the aircraft rescue firefighting team can bring this nightmare to an end.
“When you first step into the pit your mask is all fogged up,” said Cpl. Rodney J. Couch, a rescueman with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271. “As you move closer to the fire your mask clears up and you realize how big and hot the fire actually is.”
Aircraft rescue firefighters with Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 conducted training to help prepare them for fighting fuel fires in case of an accident or fuel spill at the air station’s aircraft rescue firefighting training pit, March 19.
“This type of training is conducted to teach our Marines how to safely rescue pilots and extinguish fuel fires,” said Gunnery Sgt. David A. Stone, the training chief with Station Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting. “The training also teaches them how to deal with the large amounts of fuel on the ground that will occur during an aircraft crash.”
Stone said the fire pit contains 3,000 gallons of water. Then the air station’s fuels section supplies a tanker of JP-5 jet fuel for the firefighters to train with.
“After the pit is ablaze we have two, two-man teams move in, along with a training noncommissioned officer, and extinguish the fire,” said Stone. “ARFF Marines are required to conduct two training exercies per month.”
According to Stone, ARFF Marines train constantly for the possibility of a major aircraft incident.
“The fuel-pit fires we run are a great way of training,” said Couch.
“The Marines that just checked in to ARFF or have never done fuel fires before get to see how jet fuel fires act and how to properly extinguish one.”
With the air show quickly approaching, the ARFF section must be especially prepared ARFF will deploy a fleet of P-19, firetrucks and other rescue vehicles at different locations around the air station. A P-19 with a four-man team will also deploy to the Havelock fire department in the case of an off-station incident.
Staff Sgt. Abdullah I. Ali, the ARFF section leader with MWSS-271, said the focus of the evolution was to reinforce techniques, awareness and teamwork.
“The Marines did an outstanding job,” said Ali. “The Marines always enjoy conducting training fires because it helps maintain our readiness to fight fires, protect property, and save lives. After all, that’s what our job is all about.”