Fire training collaboration aids AF mission
ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Andersen Fire and Emergency Services Airmen hosted Saipan fire officers for joint fire training here during their visit to the island March 25-29.
The four Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands fire officers observed the Air Force and Navy training programs and emergency response techniques to see what is currently being used within the Department of Defense Fire Emergency Services so they can take the techniques back to Saipan and apply them in future situations.
"We show them it's not just about going in there and putting the fire out, it's about going in there safely, getting the job done and coming out safely," said Stanley Torres, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire and Emergency Services assistant chief for training. "All the firefighters in the Air Force train the same way, and the reason why we train is to make sure that when we respond to a real-world situation, like an aircraft crash, a house or a facility fire, we get the job done, we do it safely, and we do it the right way."
The CNMI fire officers participated in various training exercises during a three-day period on Andersen. The other two days, Saipan firefighters visited Naval Base Guam Fire and Emergency Services and the Guam Fire Department . While working side-by-side with their Air Force and Navy counterparts, the Saipan firefighters observed a barrier engagement response and exercise, an aircraft emergency response and egress exercise, and structural fire exercises. They also learned to develop a live fire safety briefing, fire department training program, and an incident commander emergency response checklist.
Fire Lt. Jesse Mesa, search and rescue chief at the Saipan Department of Public Safety Fire Division, said he picked up some skills such as communications management and taking charge on the scene.
"They are willing to share their knowledge and at the same time, they are willing to accept some experience that we have," Mesa said.
This was the third time the Andersen fire department hosted and trained firefighters from Saipan. This visit was at the request of the CNMI fire chiefs and the expense of their trip was funded by the CNMI government. However, the first two times, the wing invited and brought CNMI airport firefighters to train on Air Force aircraft should any need to divert to their airports on Rota, Tinian or Saipan during an emergency.
In recent years, aircrews flying to and from Andersen have had numerous aircraft conduct emergency landings at airports on nearby islands. Saipan responding and recovering an aircraft after an emergency helps the Air Force mission to continue sooner and safer instead of waiting for Airmen to arrive in Saipan from Andersen.
If an aircraft was to shift to Saipan in an emergency, the training will help them share the information gathered this week so the responders would be knowledgeable and know how to react in that situation, Mesa said.
Saipan firefighters said they were grateful for the training they received while Team Andersen firefighters said they look forward to the opportunity to host training for the CNMI fire officers in the future should it occur again.
"We're all firefighters; we wear different uniforms ... but we train the same way, we respond the same way, we fight the same thing," Torres said. "We do the same thing by getting together and learning from each other."