Firefighters with the 185th Air Refueling Wing conducted a real fire training event using a Mobile Aircraft Fire Training unit during the May training weekend at the Sioux Gateway Airport.
The base was conducting a large scale Ability to Survive and Operate training or “ATSO” exercise. The exercise demonstrate the unit’s ability to operate in a chemical warfare environment. Due to exercise firefighters donned two layers of protective gear, one for protection against fire and one for protection against chemical warfare agents.
The 185th Deputy Fire Chief, Senior Master Sgt. Arthur Baker, said that the real fire training is a once a year requirement but for many of the firefighters this was the first time training for fighting a fire during a simulated chemical warfare attack.
“Our primary mission is aircraft fire, we learn those skills and practice those skills so if we have an accident we are ready to respond,” said Baker.
Baker said the MAFT simulates a real aircraft fire with both engine and fuselage fires and gives the most realistic training possible for firefighters.
During a real aircraft fire the firefighters would use foam due to the nature of aircraft fuel, however Baker explained for the exercise water was used with foam spraying techniques.
According to Baker, every real life fire situation could be different depending on a number of factors like wind direction, aircraft type and aircraft condition. He said that first priority was providing a rescue path for aircrew and passengers to escape.