SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- While all aspects of firefighting are important, protecting military aircraft and the flight line are key priorities.
That is where Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting or “Crash Crews” come in.
Crash crews are trained to arrive on scene, fight fires, and provide a rescue path and recover/rescue personnel as the scene allows.
“ARFF firefighting is concentrated on aircraft emergencies and aircraft related fires/crashes,” said William Johnson, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron station chief.
“There can be similarities between aircraft and structural firefighting, but basically you are fighting a large fuel fire on a lightweight structure that may have munitions on board.
“Due to the large amounts of jet fuel, aircraft firefighting can accelerate a lot quicker and produce a lot more heat.”
The base fire department recently increased its manning by 10 firefighters.
“With the increase in personnel, our training tempo has increased, all personnel were 3-levels sent from school,” said Johnson. “We have set up a rigorous training program, there are 16 vehicles, flight line certifications and numerous local items to be signed off in order to complete their upgrade in 12 months.
“There is no time to waste during their first year as a probationary firefighter.”
Airman 1st Class Macario Martinez, 375th CES firefighter, said he has grown to love his job and looks forward to the experiences he will have in this career.
“It feels as though there is definitely some added pressure in the day to day operations with the increased tempo, but this is what we train for,” Martinez said.
“With all the training and mentoring I’m receiving from my leadership, I feel confident in my abilities to execute the mission in a real life situation.”
In Johnson’s office there is a picture with the firefighting emblem that says, “This symbol owes you nothing, but if you dedicate yourself to it, it will give you everything.”
Johnson said, “Every time you can help out a pilot or aircrew and ensure their safety, knowing that they will be able to return home to their families, you have a sense of satisfaction and a job well done.”