By Pfc. Nicholas P. Baird
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. — Before sun rise, while it’s dark and cool, the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighters set out early to attack a training fuel fire during live fire training at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, Oct. 16, 2015.
The Marines must bear the blazing heat when combating the billowing fires properly and quickly. The live fire training is one of many different ways the ARFF Marines train to respond to flight line emergencies.
During the training exercise, three Marines joined experienced counter parts as they tackled their first live fire at the training pits on the flight line.
“Some of the new Marines have never seen live fire before,” said Cpl. Tyler J. Hallinan, an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist with Marine Wing Support Squadron 274. “It is important that they get to know how to use proper form and build confidence when putting out these fires.”
Marines that enlist into the aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist occupation, arrive at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas after Marine Combat Training to complete their schooling. There the Marines learn the basics on how to operate, service, and test aircraft rescue and firefighting vehicles, how to use firefighting systems, and the basic techniques and procedures to firefighting and rescue.
“While the Marines are at the schoolhouse, the fires can be turned on and off,” said Sgt. Tobin W. Wheeler, an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron. “Once the Marines get near the fire and feel the heat, it becomes more of a reality. It is either fight or flight. The senior Marines are there as safeties to ensure that they do fight and not flight.”
ARFF Marines undergo constant training throughout their careers. The training they receive makes them highly qualified to respond to any flight line emergency at the air station and help save lives.
The training gives the Marines the experience of fighting an actual fire, said Wheeler. The more they practice this, the easier it is to get out of the truck and do what they have to, to put out the fire.