WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- The 788th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department provided training to the Dayton International Airport Fire Department at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base fire training facility Oct. 5.
A DIA crash truck and five firefighters came on base after dark to get the hands-on experience putting out aircraft fires.
“We have an annual certification requirement from (the Federal Aviation Administration),” said Chief Duane Stitzel, DIA Fire Department, “and that’s to do a live training fire every year involving an aircraft or an aircraft problem. Just like Wright-Patt is providing.”
Bryan Weeks, 788 CES Fire Department assistant chief for training, said the base is coded as an FAA site.
“They don’t have a capability to do live fire training,” he said. “So they contacted us and asked if they can come out and do live-fire training.”
The fire training facility features a jet fuselage mock-up with propane gas providing real flames, giving firefighters the opportunity to practice using their equipment and meet the certification requirements.
“We have specific scenarios,” Stitzel said. “We had to operate the turrets. We had to operate the hose lines. We had to fight an engine fire and a fuselage fire. So in between all those, Wright-Patt crews help us meet all those requirements (and) get all those skills.”
Although the FAA requires his department to go through live-fire training annually, Stitzel said he brings his firefighters out to the Wright-Patt facility twice a year for additional preparation.
“Getting this time to come out and operate our trucks on a prop of an aircraft makes a great educational opportunity,” he added. “They love coming out and doing this, and I just think the experience we get from it is great.”
Jon Shinkle, a DIA rescue firefighter, appreciates the rehearsal drills.
“It’s good to be able to get some practice, get your hands out on the hose lines and practice with the trucks,” Shinkle said. “Because outside of an actual incident happening, you don’t really get a chance.”
The Dayton Airport firefighter also said he sees it as more than just work.
“It can be fun,” Shinkle said. “But for me, I just want to correct any of my imperfections because you get a little rusty; knocking the rust off is basically the biggest thing.”
DIA is not the only other regional fire department Wright-Patt helps out.
“We usually have three to four outside agencies request to come do live-fire training with aircraft,” Weeks said. “The 445th (Airlift Wing), Springfield, and Grissom (Air Reserve Base, Indiana) contacted me this year. We’ve had Columbus and Dayton airports out.”