624th CES firefighters hold live-fire training exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Keith
  • 624th Regional Support Group
Firefighters with the 624th Civil Engineering Squadron donned silver fire proximity suits and formed up in teams of two to practice their structural live-fire skills in their first exercise of the new year, Jan. 10, 2015.

"Live-fire exercises bring us closer together and allow us to work as a team," said Chief Master Sgt. Desmond Yogi, assistant fire chief with the 624th CES.

The 624th CES's assistant chief of training, Tech. Sgt. Kaohilii Romualdo, gave a preburn briefing at the Hickam Fire Department and assigned teams before they drove out to the live-fire facility. Once at the facility, Sergeant Romualdo conducted a walk-through of the structure and gave the crews a pre-attack briefing.

Sergeant Romualdo said, "Training is crucial, especially for our younger firefighters. You can't wait until a real fire to figure out how to react."

The exercise began after the crews laid out the fire hoses and suited up. The first team approached a closed door with the nozzle of the fire hose ready. Senior Airman Warren Duke and Staff Sgt. Michael Fong-Aiu stayed low as they waited for the 624th CES's safety officer, Tech. Sgt. Kaweo Andreas-Feeney, to test the heat level of the door with his hand. Sergeant Andreas-Feeney then opened the door and signaled the team to enter the room to fight a simulated kitchen fire.

Duke said, "It's always two in and two out so we know everyone's accounted for and our safety's good."

Sergeant Romualdo, positioned inside the room, monitored the propane-fueled fire using a portable handheld radio to communicate with Tech. Sgt. Kaea Matthews who manned the control panel outside. Sergeant Matthews regulated the intensity and duration of the fire based on feedback from Romualdo.

Using a clockwise pattern to douse the fire, Airman Duke and Sergeant Fong-Aiu kept the water stream angled at 30 degrees. Once the fire was extinguished, they sprayed a fog of water to cool the gases near the ceiling. Sergeants Romualdo and Andreas-Feeney signaled them to exit the room.

Airman Duke, one of the newest firefighters to the unit, attends college fulltime. Sergeant Fong-Aiu is a federal firefighter at the Hickam Fire Department.

"We have a mix of everybody coming together today," said Chief Yogi, referring to the fact that 97 percent of the reservists are civilian firefighters who work for federal, state, county and airport fire departments in Hawai'i.

Airman Duke said that his fellow Air Force Reserve firefighters were like a brotherhood to him. "All I can do is absorb their wisdom and be as good as them one day," he said.

By noon, five more teams of firefighters had completed the hands-on training.

The commander of the 624th CES, Lt. Col. Reid Matsuda, said the exercise helped the unit fulfill an annual requirement for the Status of Resources and Training System (SORTS) that measures the health of their day-to-day preparedness and ability to execute in a major theater of war.

The 624th CES has nearly 30 Air Force Reserve firefighters who can be ready to deploy with 72 hours' notice.