The National Defence Fire Services at Garrison Petawawa underwent a downed aircraft firefighting simulation in late March. Teams extinguish the flames on this fake airplane. Every year, the team of military and civilian firefighters must go through this Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting (ARFF) training to recertify them. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf)
Once the outside flames were put out, a crew went in to look for any signs of life - Denise Townshend, Edward McLean and Connor Clouthier hose down any hot spots left in the aircraft. This training is part of their yearly certification in Aircraft rescue and firefighting. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf)
Fire Services hone aircraft firefighting skills
By Patricia Leboeuf
Posted on Thursday, April 13, 2017
To ensure their skills remain consistently sharp, the National Defence Fire Services at Garrison Petawawa underwent a downed aircraft firefighting simulation.
Every year, the team of military and civilian firefighters must recertify in Aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) training, guaranteeing they are fully prepared in case an aircraft goes down in the area. “There are aircraft on base so we have to specialize in aircraft,” said Instructor Pierre Blackburn, adding these firefighters must also specialize in many other diverse situations including structure fires, hazardous material fires, fuel fires, ice/water rescues, and medical response. “They are often the first responders and (in the military) they have more under the umbrella,” he added.
Small groups of about seven or so firefighters completed the training on March 23, 24, 27, 28 and 29. Each team experienced the same scenario but in different weather conditions as the temperature fluctuated from sunny, hot afternoons to an unexpected snowfall.
Once the Canadian Forces Fire Academy instructors explained the procedures and the firefighters left the scene, the portable simulated aircraft was set on fire. It wasn’t long before the fire trucks unleashed hundreds of gallons of high-pressured water onto the twisted, hot metal.
Once the exterior flames were out, a small team took the hose inside the burnedout shell and looked for any “survivors.” Two casualties were rescued, but personnel continued to look for any potential signs of life and extinguished any hot spots they came across. After ruling out further casualties and making sure nothing would flare up again, the firefighters brought the training experience to a successful close. “It is hands-on and it burns off the rust,” said Firefighter Jeremy Kuehl. “You get somewhat complacent, so this training refreshes our skills.”
Bringing in a new simulated plane made the training a bit unpredictable, which is a positive. In real life, fires are unpredictable and no one knows exactly how a call will go. “It sharpens your skills,” said Firefighter Brandon Reckzin.
Certification for aircraft firefighting is done every year. “You forget certain things over the years so we just remind them,” said Instructor Shaun Fretter.