MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 aircraft rescue firefighters conducted fire suppression training for their newly joined Marines at the Cherry Point fuel fire pit August 6.
“These new Marines are fresh to the fleet, just out of the school house,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel Johnson, aircraft rescue and firefighting section leader with MWSS-271. “For their first real fire, this training went really well.”
The new Marines were paired up with more experienced aircraft rescue firefighters who acted as support and backup.
“This was a lot different from the controlled propane burns we do in military occupational specialty school,” said Pfc. Joshua Hawthorne, an aircraft rescue firefighter with MWSS-271. “I was not ready. The fire we do at school can be shut off if they get out of control, and today we learned a lot of things we have to work on.”
According to Johnson, the new Marines did a few things wrong, but overall he saw that their training has paid off.
“Here at the live burn, it’s either put out the fire or it keeps burning,” said Cpl. Andrew Tomblin, an aircraft rescue firefighter with MWSS-271. “I was just thinking to myself ‘Do not let the fire circle you or get out of your peripheral vision. Once that happens, that’s it, you’re cut off from your exit.”
According to Gunnery Sgt. Michael Dagnino, the training chief for MWSS-271’s aircraft rescue firefighting, a fuel fire can range in heat from 800 to 1,300 degrees.
“It is a lot hotter than a propane fire in the pit,” said Tomblin. “I wish it was like this in MOS school. Propane fires you can get a lot closer to, but the fires out here, even at a small size, get really hot.”
Johnson explained that working in the blistering heat makes it difficult for the new Marines, but the hardest part is avoiding major injuries, such as burns.
“This was my first training with live fuel fires,” said Tomblin. “Out here it is real. There aren’t any instructors that can just turn the fire off if we freak out. We have to keep our composure or we’re going to get hurt or worse, someone could be killed.”