Firefighters train in Moses Lake 

By Clint Herman, Sergeant, ARFF

Recently the KCIA Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) firefighters participated in a live fire training scenario at Big Bend College in Moses Lake. This type of training is required by the FAA for ARFF personnel to hone our skills in the event of an actual emergency.

Moses Lake is the closest and most realistic training prop available to us in the Pacific Northwest. A training prop is a steel mock-up of an airplane with fuel-ignited fires so we can practice putting them out. Here’s a video to give you a better idea of how we use a training prop.

We were joined by our partners from Paine Field Fire Department and the Pendleton Oregon Fire Department. Having multiple agencies train with us give us the chance to learn from them and improve our response to potential emergencies.

During this training we conducted different scenarios ranging from interior search and rescue in a zero-visibility environment to truck-mounted turret operations on real fuel-based fires. The fires are fueled by the same type we might see on an actual emergency and are mounted on a large-scale model of the types of aircraft we have at KCIA. We were also lucky enough to do hand line operations, using actual fire hose with a fire fighting nozzle instead of our truck-mounted water turrets to simulate fighting an engine or compartment fire. This allows us to get up close and personal with the airplane to fight smaller or hard to extinguish fires.

Last year ARFF purchased new breathing apparatus which included on-board thermal imaging technology. This allows us to pinpoint the location of trapped victims by observing body heat on the screen. With these training props we were able to become very proficient with this new technology. We look forward to returning next year for continued training.