NATO firefighters hold live fire training with Americans at Ramstein
By JENNIFER H. SVAN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: March 12, 2020
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — Armed with hoses and oxygen masks, firefighters from four NATO countries took turns Wednesday putting out a propane-fueled fire on a burning jet simulator as U.S. instructors looked on.
The tricky part of the live fire drill was getting the pilot out — a ragdoll-like manikin seated inside the cockpit of the F-15 fire trainer.
One of the lessons the teams from Latvia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria learned at the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Fire Academy is to carry the pilot down the ladder feet first to protect the head.
Led by instructors from the 435th Construction and Training Squadron, the academy holds courses several times a year for NATO firefighters, offering unique live fire training.
Other drills during the week included a structure burn and room-to-room search and rescue.
“Our Army doesn’t have this similar facility for training,” said Capt. Jan Mericka of the Czech Army’s Logistics Agency.
The F-15 fire trainer was used for the first time Wednesday, said Tech. Sgt. Frank Butler, a 435th CTS instructor. It took about 18 months to align U.S. and European safety requirements before it could be used.
Feeding a line of propane to the trainer, the instructors controlled the height and length of the fire, simulating first an engine intake fire, then a brake fire, Butler said.
The presence of U.S. aircraft throughout Europe underscores the importance of the drills, Butler said.
“They’ll be able to provide that support in the event there was an aircraft emergency,” he said.
The Latvian firefighting team puts out an engine fire on a mockup of a fighter jet, March 11, 2020. Firefighters from four NATO nations practiced putting out fires at the USAFE Fire Academy on Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
MICHAEL ABRAMS/STARS AND STRIPES