Firefighters tackle tough training in Alpena Published Oct. 23, 2008 By SrA Anna Wyant 127th Public Affairs October 19, 2008 -- Imagine seeing a plane surrounded by flames, hearing sounds of women screaming and babies crying inside, and rushing inside to rescue survivors, all while carrying more than 50 pounds of gear. It may seem like a ridiculous scenario, but for Selfridge's own firefighters, this is an annual training requirement that mimics a possible reality. Every year, both civilian and military firefighters from Selfridge must complete realistic and rigorous fire pit training in Alpena. Fire pit training involves a model aircraft in a stone pit that is purposely set on fire for the firefighters to extinguish with first their trucks and then their handheld hoses. At the end, the firefighters must remove a mannequin from the aircraft and properly carry it to safety. TSgt Richard Gordon was the troop commander for the training session on October 19, and he said that the training was an overwhelming success. Although the training regimen barely varies from year to year, Gordon, who has trained in Alpena numerous times, still gets an adrenaline rush from it. "Fighting fire is never a perfect science," Gordon said. "I absolutely train as if it were real. The fire pit is incredibly realistic." Another benefit this session was getting some new troops more hands-on training. A1C Patrick Fletcher, who had never previously trained in Alpena, said the training was helpful and effective. "I drove the fire truck for the first time," Fletcher said. "It's a lot of responsibility, but I look forward to learning more." Since both civilian and military personnel trained together, Gordon said that training in Alpena is great for teambuilding. "Selfridge's fire department is a close knit group," Gordon said. "Training together really helps fortify our bond."