Local firefighters join Mildenhall department for training exercise
By WILLIAM HOWARD | STARS AND STRIPES Published: June 27, 2017
RAF MILDENHALL, England — U.S. Air Force firefighters on Monday extinguished the raging inferno of a prop aircraft with a steady blast from the twin water cannons of a fire truck during a live-fire exercise on base.
Airmen with the 100th Civil Engineer Squadron hosted the event for 15 firefighters from the Norfolk Fire and Rescue, showing them how to respond to and fight an aircraft fire.
“Our host nation fire department doesn’t have access to this type of equipment or training. We deal with aircraft on a daily basis,” said Tech. Sgt. Kyle Houseman, assistant chief for training at the RAF Mildenhall Fire Department. “I think coming out here and seeing the large-frame aircraft live-fire burn solidifies what we do here at RAF Mildenhall.”
The airmen have a long-standing relationship with the local firefighters, with whom they train and fight fires together.
Several of the Norfolk firefighters who attended were finishing up the last week of their 12-week recruit training. The program challenges them in the classroom and in the field.
“The actual in-depth firefight I’ve never seen before,” Norfolk recruit David Pickwell said. “Just how hot an aircraft burn can get, how dangerous it could be, where the danger points are in an aircraft and the correct way to apply water.”
By the end of the afternoon each Norfolk recruit shared a view from the front seat in the USAF fire truck. They are slated to begin their three-year probationary positions at fire stations throughout Norfolk.
“We’ve formed quite a brotherhood, and we’re all good friends,” said Pickwell, who’s joining the fire department in King’s Lynn, about an hour’s drive from Mildenhall. “With the size of Norfolk and us being spread all over the place, we might never see each other again. It’s sad but I think we’re all ready to get onto our stations.”