Truck 4, Prepare for Rescue Operations!
By Staff Sgt. Dan Heaton , 127th Public Affairs
/ Published October 23, 2008
October 18, 2008 -- (crackle..."Exercise announcement... Aircraft down, Crash Truck 2 and 3 set up a perimeter... truck 4 prepare for rescue operations...")
ALPENA COMBAT READINESS TRAINING CENTER, Alpena, Mich. (OCT. 18, 2008) -- I am a metal husk. On a lot of days, I sit quietly in the northern Michigan sun. When I see a transport plane land at my base, though, and hear the rumble of the giant neon yellow trucks, I know I am in for a hot time.
This day, it is a KC-135 bearing the familiar logo of the 12th Wing at Selfridge Air National Guard Base. About 20 of the Wing's firefighters will be spending the day training to put out the liquid propane-fed fires that surround the gravel platform that is my home here at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. Later in the day, one of my wings will catch on fire and another time a cargo fire will blaze in my belly. Each time, Airmen firefighters, always working in teams of two will work quickly to douse my blaze, cool me off, even to rescue the mannequin hidden in my false cockpit.
Master Sgt. Russel McCauley, deputy fire chief for the 127th is cycling through his firefighters in a series of exercises, pairing up NCOs with airmen to enhance the training.
"This is a good training exercise for us," McCauley said. "The majority of our people are firefighters or in some type of emergency service work in their civilian jobs, but even though they might deal with fires on regular basis, they don't see an aircraft fire situation. That's what we are able to train on in Alpena."
Yes, that's what I love to hear. I look sort of like a small C-130, though one of my wings is high and one is low, to allow for varied training experiences. They tell me that I am the busiest aircraft fire simulator in the country, but I don't worry about that. My main concern is providing realistic training for not only Airmen, but other military fire crews and even the scores of area civilian fire departments that train on me. Just last week, the 180th Fighter Wing from Toledo was here. All this weekend, its crews from the 127th.
At Selfridge, the fire department is constantly training, constantly reviewing the best tactics to respond to emergency needs, explained Tom Moody, assistant chief for training at the base fire department.
"One of the concerns, now that we are flying KC-135s, is the volume of fuel that could be involved in an emergency situation," Moody said. "We always have to be thinking and communicating with each other about what we find at the scene."
Senior Airman Brian Zorn has been with the 127th fire department for a little over four years. He joined the Wing shortly before his father, Senior Master Sgt. David Zorn, retired.
"I love to get out here and do this kind of hands on training. This is what I joined the Guard to do," Zorn said.
That is what I love to hear. Sure, to most people I just look like a metal husk. But the Air Force is a team. Some fly the planes. Some serve the meals. And some stand ready at the fire station. Me? I am the best fire training simulator in the country and I am happily ready to withstand the heat and the flames for yet another day of training, knowing that I am doing my part.
(crackle..."End exercise... All teams stand down and return to station...")