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Firefighters from the Sasebo Naval Base detachment of the Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department take part in a full-blown exercise in response to a mock fire at an uninhabited tower in the main base housing area Friday morning.
Firefighters from the Sasebo Naval Base detachment of the Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department take part in a full-blown exercise in response to a mock fire at an uninhabited tower in the main base housing area Friday morning. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Firefighters from the Sasebo Naval Base detachment of the Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department take part in a full-blown exercise in response to a mock fire at an uninhabited tower in the main base housing area Friday morning.
Firefighters from the Sasebo Naval Base detachment of the Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department take part in a full-blown exercise in response to a mock fire at an uninhabited tower in the main base housing area Friday morning. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
A Sasebo Naval Base firefighter speaks to firefighters inside the tower during Friday’s exercise.
A Sasebo Naval Base firefighter speaks to firefighters inside the tower during Friday’s exercise. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Firefighters make their way through smoke-filled rooms looking for possible “victims” during Friday’s training exercise.
Firefighters make their way through smoke-filled rooms looking for possible “victims” during Friday’s training exercise. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
Firefighters evacuate a "victim" from a smoke-filled apartment.
Firefighters evacuate a "victim" from a smoke-filled apartment. (Greg Tyler / S&S)
During the exercise, firefighters practice entering a smoke-filled apartment with water hoses.
During the exercise, firefighters practice entering a smoke-filled apartment with water hoses. (Greg Tyler / S&S)

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — With thick smoke complicating the search for “victims,” emergency personnel pulled bodies from an uninhabited apartment tower in the main base housing area Friday morning.

The exercise — complete with taut fire hoses, spinning red lights and several base fire engines filling the parking lot and lining the street — sparked curiosity among area residents, some of whom stood in their yards to watch.

“It’s what we call a structural evolution, and it’s exactly as you saw it … we react and respond to an emergency situation just as if it were the real thing,” said Frank Montone, new training chief for the Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan Regional Fire Department.

The apartment tower used for the exercise is slated for demolition in “a year or two,” he said.

“It’s just a great unoccupied building to use but we still check thoroughly to make sure no one is in there before we start any training.”

Montone arrived three weeks ago from Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., so the exercise provided a first opportunity to observe his firefighters in action. He said he came away feeling good about their skills.

“I got a great feeling about them all. … There’s a lot of good hustle with these people that you don’t see during training stateside,” he said. “These firefighters know what they’re doing and we’re going to keep doing it.

“We’re good,” he added. “We’re going to be the best.”

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