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Playing with fire: don't try this at home

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
After fighting fires for 33 years, Brian Cullen, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department technical services assistant chief, knows what it takes to put out the heat.

That's why he led a live-fire training exercise for the firefighters Nov. 4, at the fire training facility here.

"Feeling the heat actually gets your heart rate up because it is going to give you a little more of an adrenaline rush watching the fire roll over your head than it is seeing a strobe light go off saying it's a fire with fake smoke," said Cullen.

The training consisted of two and four man attack teams. They put out aircraft and structure fires as well as cargo department, flight deck and fuselage fires. The crews also practiced nozzle spray pattern techniques as they went in to fight the fires.

The training is a semi-annual requirement for fire fighters and the fire department tries to accomplish it four times a year. The live fire training this time involved the 436th and 512th MSG leadership. This allowed them to get hands on training and experience what the firefighter's experience.

Holly Mehringer, 436th MSG deputy commander, said she appreciated the opportunity to see the training in person.

"This was a great opportunity for leadership to get out and have hands on," said Mehringer. "We sit behind a desk and we think we know what MSG is doing but it is fun to actually get out there and see what our Airmen do on a daily basis. It also gives us a better appreciation for what they do."

Joe Mriss, 436th CES Fire Department operations assistant chief, said live fire training is a building block for younger firefighters.

"It is kind of a confidence builder because you have get used to walking into a room where you can't see and be able to feel your way around with your hands," said Mriss.

Cullen not only is a firefighter on base but also volunteers in Felton, Del. He said even though live fire training and real fires are similar, they are also different.

Cullen said the biggest difference between something that is real and the training is that Airmen can still get burned in a training fire but nothing is going to fall on you in a concrete structure that is built for that reason.

"In a real fire ceilings and walls come down," said Cullen. "You can hear crackles all around you and floors can drop from underneath you. You could be crawling along and suddenly there is no floor. It's a lot more exciting and I think your senses are a lot more in tune in a real fire."

Airman 1st Class Dallas Gullion, 436th CES firefighter, said the live fire training was not only exciting but taught him new techniques.

"It was fun because we got to play with fire," said Gullion. "It helped prepare me for a real fire and also helped me focus on learning crew chief and lineman abilities."