Holloman AFB firefighters train for success
By Airman 1st Class Leah Murray, 49th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published September 27, 2013
Holloman Air Force Base, N.M. -- The friendships between co-workers can be a powerful thing, but when you spend 24-hours with the same people every other day, depending on them to possibly save your life one day, that's when you find the true definition of camaraderie; and the Holloman AFB fire protection flight knows all about it.
Holloman has a total of three fire stations on base, employing about 86 active duty and civilian firefighters. The stations are always 24-hour manned, 365 days a year. The fire department is broken up into two shifts: A-shift and B-shift, with 30 members each.
Firefighters have to be ready at a moment's notice. This means always being ready for the call that may never come.
The day starts at 8 a.m. with roll call. Then, the firefighters check the trucks for any damage or malfunctions. They eat breakfast, and then start the day's training. They break for lunch at 11:30, and then go back into training. From 4 to 5 p.m. they get their time for physical training. Finally at 5 p.m. downtime starts. Family and spouses join for dinner with their loved ones. Instead of the firefighters going home to sleep in their own beds, they stay in the station awaiting emergency calls. They wake up at 6:30 a.m. to do morning details like cleaning, head home at 8 a.m, only to repeat the process all over again the next morning.
"We're ready all the time." said Richard Adler, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight battalion chief. Adler helps the chiefs by overseeing all the station's training, and helping the Airmen with everyday needs and paperwork.
The firefighters train on a daily basis. The training ranges from computer based training courses in the station's computer room, to learning how to drive and operate the many different fire engines. They practice confined space exercises by training to retrieve victims who have found themselves trapped and unable to free themselves. In addition, Hazmat training teaches them how to properly handle chemical contamination. The list continues with structural and live burns as well as T-38 Talon egress exercises. The training never ends.
"Training is the most important part of our job," said Airman 1st Class Ryan Oke, 49th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight firefighter.
"I love live burn exercises. We get to put the wet stuff [water] on the red stuff [fire]." Oke said.
The training that they perfected throughout the year is being tested during Holloman's Unit Effectiveness Inspection. When asked how their training was affected in preparation for the inspection, Oke said, "We're always training. We're always practicing. I think we'll do well on the inspection."
The burden of a firefighter can be great with continuous training, late-night calls, working on holidays, long deployments, and hazards of the job, but when asked if he enjoyed his job, Oke said proudly "I do. Spending time with the guys, and all the camaraderie is great. We're all one big family."
"We train so we can save lives," said Oke.