KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Firefighters from around the Pacific scaled a 40-foot building Thursday, practicing rope rescue techniques.

The training is part of a new fire course offered by Kadena’s Detachment 1, 554th Red Horse Squadron. It’s the third such course initiated by the Department of Defense, officials said.

Firefighters from bases in Alaska, South Korea and Misawa, Japan, are learning how to rescue victims in training scenarios, including a worker caught on an electrical pole and a person stuck in an elevator shaft.

The 10 firefighters will receive 120 hours of training over the three-week course, which started June 2.

Firefighters must be able to complete a rope rescue within 45 minutes to earn certification based on standards by the DOD Fire Training Academy at Goodfellow Air Force Base in Texas, said Tech. Sgt. Norman Becker, the lead instructor.

Instructors make sure firefighters feel comfortable using the ropes, tying knots properly and being harnessed, he said.

Initially, firefighters think the skinny rope will not support their weight, let alone two people, Becker said.

"It’s about getting them to have confidence in the equipment," he said. "These ropes can hold three cars before they would break."

The rescue course is aimed primarily at airmen in the Pacific Air Forces and offers a cost-effective way for them to receive certification, said course director Master Sgt. Ronald O. Freeman.

"There is a big need in the military for specialized rescue training," Freeman said. "Every squadron has to have this certification."

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now