Photo Information

U.S. Marines pose for an environmental photo on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, April 7.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild

Expeditionary firefighting and rescue Marines: Ready at a moment’s notice

9 Apr 2021 | Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild Marine Corps Installations Pacific

Across the Marine Corps, mission readiness is a topic often addressed, and for expeditionary firefighting and rescue specialists Marines with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, Marine Corps Installations Pacific, it is a daily practice.

EFR specialists provide aircraft rescue and firefighting services in support of airfield operations and respond to any fire-related emergencies and situations with a maximum response time of five minutes.

“It’s all about making sure we are prepared for anything that comes our way,” said Lance Cpl. Nicklas Martin, a native of Troy, Michigan, and an EFR specialist with H&HS, MCIPAC. “We respond to all types of emergencies, so maintaining and accounting for every piece of gear and functionality of the vehicles is paramount to our pledge to serve and protect.”

At the dawn of each day, Marines conduct visual and physical inspections of every firefighting vehicle they utilize. The examinations conducted ensure that each piece of gear is accounted for and to certify the operability of the vehicles themselves.

 “It’s all about making sure we are prepared for anything that comes our way.” Lance Cpl. Nicklas Martin, H&HS, MCIPAC EFR specialist

Martin explains they routinely conduct training to stay mission ready and prepared for any fire-related emergency. The drills themselves last less than two minutes, in which the Marines don their bunker gear, enter the firefighting vehicles, and shed their bunker gear to then be evaluated on their performance. The gear, weighing up to 60 pounds, consists of fireproof boots, trousers, a jacket, Nomex headgear, a mask with a respirator, a helmet and an oxygen tank.

“The purpose of the bunker drills is to ensure that the Marines can apply and offload their bunker gear from themselves in two minutes or less,” said Cpl. Calvin Pellegrino, a native of Billerica, Massachusetts and an EFR specialist with H&HS, MCIPAC. “We hold ourselves to a high standard as well as a fast paced response time, and the bunker drills are critical to maintaining our mission readiness.”

Kill the Flame Photo by Lance Cpl. Alex Fairchild

Pellegrino explains that before EFR Marines are assigned to a duty station, they attend a three month firefighting course at Goodfellow Air Force Base located in San Antonio, Texas. Part of the training they receive ensures they are proficient in fighting structural, chemical and aircraft fires, as well as holding a basic understanding of emergency medical procedures.

EFR Marines typically work 48-hour shifts, sometimes spanning to 72 hours. The relentless dedication ensures that Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, and its airfield, has constant aircraft rescue and firefighting support at any given time.

“Working long hours together truly brings us together as a professional family, and that is what makes us who we are,” said Martin. “With the unique teamwork and camaraderie we share with one another we are truly able to be there for anyone who needs our help.”