Fighting fires side by side
KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Whether Wolf Pack firefighters are climbing stairs in a smoke-filled house or running toward a flaming aircraft, they want to know the men at their sides have their backs.
In a crisis like a fire, it's critical to make swift decisions without hesitation. Joint training with the Republic of Korea Air Force Oct. 14 gave both sides a chance to work on fire-fighting techniques while also working to overcome the language barrier.
"Your weakest link will affect how you train and react to situations," said Tech. Sgt. Kevin Murphy, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron assistant chief of training. "Some of the hand signals we use are universal, but we're working all the time to communicate more completely. It's already come so far from when I was first here in 2004."
The ROKAF 38th Fighter Group and 8th CES were able to run through several scenarios involving the four-story structural fire trainer and the aircraft trainer, which resembles the F-16 Fighting Falcon.
While in the structural trainer, two-man teams of one Korean and one American took turns practicing their primary and secondary search skills, as well as basic firefighting. Effectively fighting the aircraft fire required them to pay attention to every detail, starting with where they parked the truck when initially responding.
Although the American firefighters receive training while going through the 68-day technical training school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, it's new ground for young Korean firefighters.
"The training is very hard and I'm very tired, but it's effective," said ROKAF Senior Airman Kim Min Soo, who underwent the training for the first time. "The hardest part was learning the proper way to carry the 160-pound dummy down from the second floor. I want to do more training like this in the future."
The units are planning to begin monthly joint training to make even more progress toward a relationship that requires a high level of trust.
"Overall, the training went very well. Everyone understood the objectives and achieved them," said Murphy. "The more we train together, the more things will become second nature to all of us. We need to be able to operate well together while rescuing people and extinguishing the fire."