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U.S. Marines with Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) extinguish a fire from a training aircraft during a wheel fire exercise at West Field, Marine Corps Air Station, Feb. 2, 2018. ARFF conducted a wheel fire exercise to improve proficiency in assessing and extinguishing a fire by utilizing the Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Training Device. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres)

Photo by Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres

ARFF conducts ‘Wheel Fire’ training

2 Feb 2018 | Cpl. Jesus Sepulveda Torres 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

    A sunny day with nothing out of the ordinary is the usual weather for aircraft landing aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii, but that can all change immediately if they were to experience a malfunction.
    When that kind of call comes, the Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting (ARFF) with Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay (MCAS) is first on sight already reacting to the situation.
    To effectively prepare for worst case scenarios like these, ARFF conducted wheel fire training on Feb. 2, 2018 at West Field, MCAS.
    “We focused on aircraft hot brakes,” said Sgt. Miguel Castaneda, a station captain with ARFF. “Hot brakes occur when the braking system fails, then heat up so high that it actually melts the tires thus catching the wheels on fire.”
He said the training included different aspects of responding to an aircraft related fire.
    “Our driver's practiced driving their P-19 fire-fighting vehicles, approaching a simulated burning aircraft called a Mobile Aircraft Firefighting Training Device (MAFTD),” Castaneda said. “With two vehicles, the Marines assessed the type of fire and responded accordingly with cooling agent as well as water.”
    Castaneda said the exercise was approached with a crawl-walk-run method that had Marines learn the concept in a classroom environment, followed by practical application.
    “Starting in the classroom, Marines were instructed on what hot brakes are and how to properly coordinate as a team to respond effectively to them,” Castaneda said. “I feel confident in how well the Marines executed their objectives as well as being engaged in the after action briefs.”
    Lance Cpl. Kaleb Gray, a firefighter with ARFF, said the scenarios and instructions were clear and concise for him and junior Marines.
    “To me, it was all refresher training, but to the newer guys who never done these classes before, it helps out a lot,” he said. “The training was excellent, because we had more specific training in a step-by-step environment. We went through everything we needed to do out here in the classroom first to sharpen our reactions.”
Gray said the instructors were able to identify flaws and correct them as the day went on. He also added that everybody who leaves from the training is that much more skilled in their job.
    ARFF Marines are always training and are on call for airfield emergencies, said Chief Warrant Officer 2 Jacob Forston, the officer in charge for ARFF.
    “The goal was to instill confidence in the Marines, to be confident in what they’re task is and knowing what they’re their position on the site is, so that they don’t have to think, just act,” he said. “Out of all the worksites on this base, we are 100% ready at the firehouse, whether the airfield is open or not, we are working seven days a week,” he said. “This training only makes us that much more proficient.”

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