By Lance Cpl. Terry Haynes III, Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort
BEAUFORT , South Carolina -- Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting conducted controlled burn training aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Jan. 19.
The small aircraft fuel fire simulates putting out a jet fire and and was held to prepare Marines for any real life scenarios they may encounter while on the job.
"We try to do training fires like this at least once a month," said Cpl. Trevor Hendry, a crewman with ARFF. "Now that we have the opportunity to do these exercises more often it makes it a lot easier to to maintain unit readiness as a whole."
The training took place in a pit specifically designed for training fires. A mock aircraft is surrounded by nozzles that douse the aircraft and surrounding areas in jet fuel. When the Marines are ready, the fuel is then ignited with a flare.
“It definitely forces people to become more comfortable with their hand line skills,” said Lance Cpl. Danny Clarke a hand lineman with ARFF. “It gives you more of an insight on how the fire moves and the little things you need to watch out for while on the job.”
To put out the fire, two pairs of Marines advance toward both side of the aircraft. The lead Marine holds the hose and controls the flow of the water. The second Marine stabilizes the first and keeps an eye out for safety hazards. During the training there is also a pit safety officer for each pair of Marines.
“Safety is the most important aspect when it comes to these training events,” said Hendry. “There is no teacher as good as experience. That’s why this training is so important, it keeps Marines cycling through and having these repetitions under their belt.”
The Marines also considered environmental safety at the pit. Since there is excess water that runs off of the pit, they surrounded the back of the pit with a berm of fuel absorbing material. Another safety precaution was an extra tanker of water and a rapid intervention team on standby.
“The most important part of this training is the trust that it builds in this unit,” said Clarke. “I have to be able to trust that my fellow Marine has my back. The better prepared we are and confidence in our abilities when we are on the job are the keys when it comes to saving a life.”