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180th Fighter Wing Firefighters train in simulated structure fire

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Shane Hughes
  • 180th Fighter Wing
A high-pitched, metallic ring split the autumn air as Staff Sgt. Andrew Burton drove the striking edge of an axe into a Halligan bar. The Halligan bar wedged deeper into the door jamb and the metal groaned as it resisted the force.

"Drive," Senior Airman William Echols called out to Burton. Burton slammed the axe into the Halligan bar again and again and again. The sharp snap of splitting wood signaled that the crossbar locking the door from the other side had splintered and could now be breached.

Forcible entry was one of four different techniques Firefighters from the 180th Fighter Wing practiced during the Regularly Scheduled Drill on Saturday, Nov. 7th.

Staff Sgt. Justin Askins, the incident commander for the training exercise, said the firefighters rotated through four different training stations where they practiced forcible entry, hose advancements, ladder placements, and fire suppression techniques. The training concluded with a structural exercise, where the firefighters applied all of the skills simultaneously during a simulated structure fire.

"The scene that we created was a five-story building showing smoke on the fourth floor," Askins said. "It gave everyone a way to apply the skills from all those different training evolutions."

Airman 1st Class Lamar Smith said the training allowed him to practice skills outside of the classroom setting.  He said the training reinforced the importance of safety and accountability when responding to a structure fire. The training also allowed him to revisit basic firefighting skills.

"You go to technical school, and after tech school you forget some of the things you learned there," Lamar said. "We covered a lot of the basics from tech school. Repetition is what makes us better at our jobs."

"The training is a lot better for the traditional Guardsmen," Askins said. "They're out here one weekend a month, and a lot of this stuff is so hands-on that if you're not out here doing it every day, you risk losing that repetitive knowledge. That hands-on training is pretty crucial and really helped drive those skills home."

The training took place at a specialized training facility owned by the Toledo Fire Department, which includes a five-story training tower. The 180th FW partners with the TFD and other civil authorities to share resources and maximize training benefits. The practical application of skills during simulated scenarios which reflect real-world situations allows Airmen to improve their ability to perform their jobs at a high level of success and ensures they are ready to deploy.
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