Patriot Warrior prepares firefighters for critical combat role

  • Published
  • By Air Force Master Sgt. Theanne Herrmann, 624th Regional Support Group
  • 624th Regional Support Group
Military firefighters from across the country traveled to Dobbins Air Reserve Base, Georgia, recently to participate in specialized firefighting training as a part of Patriot Warrior to help prepare them for their combat role in a deployed environment.

The firefighter part is one aspect of Patriot Warrior, which is the Air Force Reserve Command’s annual four-week premier exercise held Aug. 4-24 is designed to prepare Reservists to operate under volatile, uncertain and complex conditions in every corner of the world.

“Firefighters are essential in combat zones," said Master Sgt. Chris Bauchle, firefighter instructor with the Air Force Reserve’s 434th Civil Engineer Squadron, Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana.

Military firefighters perform rescue and firefighting operations during structural fires, aircraft incidents and vehicle emergencies.

“We need to be ready to respond if needed,” said Bauchle. “We can mitigate an incident so the mission can carry on as soon as possible."

Many of the Reserve Citizen Airmen attending the training are experienced full-time civilian firefighters in their hometowns, but Patriot Warrior challenged them to work with limited resources similar to what they might face during a deployment.

“It’s all contingency-based training and we are making it as realistic as possible,” said Bauchle. “The firefighters here are learning how to get the equipment and manpower necessary to establish a fire department at an underdeveloped base.”

One of the advantages to firefighting at home is the option of calling in additional agencies to help respond to an emergency situation; this is not the case in a deployed environment.

“The firefighters training here are getting a heavy dose of what it means to be the first and only firefighters on the ground,” said Bauchle. “Stateside firefighters have access to fire hydrants all over but in a deployment zone firefighters may need to get creative to find their water source.”

To ensure the Airmen are combat-ready, the instructors test the firefighters’ ability to extinguish fires and rescue people with a variety of scenarios. The emergency response scenarios included a car fire, a three-story building fire, and a different types of aircraft fires. Other aspects of the training included low-angle rescue operations and patient transport.

The exercise also provides the firefighters with training assets not typically available at their home stations such as the Fire Flash II trainer.

The Fire Flash II trainer is an enclosed trailer complete with a mock sofa and kitchen. The trailer provides the trainers the opportunity to test the firefighters’ skills in responding to fire that flashes behind them or rolling over their heads.

“The training helps us stay ready and focused on our mission,” said Senior Airman Warren Duke with the 624th Civil Engineer Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. “I’m learning how to deal with stress in an uncomfortable environment. Patriot Warrior is helping me become a combat-ready Airman.”

Patriot Warrior provided the firefighters the opportunity to learn from Reservists from JBPH-H, Hawaii, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

“I enjoy the camaraderie with the people we have here because we could be going downrange with them sometime in the future,” said Duke. “We build bonds and pretty much network, it’s almost like a big fire family.”

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