By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian Morales, Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- On a ship, every Sailor is expected to be able to fight fires while underway. On land, five Reserve detachments train to support shore-based fire stations world-wide for Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC).
Twenty-one Navy Reserve Sailors assigned to CNIC earned the title “firefighter” after completing 360 hours of training through the Fire and Emergency Services (F&ES) Academy at Naval Support Activity Annapolis, April 19.
“We’re here to mark a very significant accomplishment,” said Capt. Moira E. McCarthy, commanding officer of Navy Reserve CNIC, during the latest Reserve F&ES graduation ceremony. “While your graduation marks the end of one thing, it really marks the beginning of another. These Sailors — these firefighters, began a process of preparation. This process of preparation which really has only one role and that is to make these Sailors ready for an emergency during an actual disaster … these Sailors are getting a lot and they’re going to do some extremely important jobs.”
Naval District Washington’s F&ES team instructed an eight-week compressed training for the Reserve graduates, a course which normally takes 16 weeks. The firefighting students received firsthand training in: firefighting 1 —personal protective equipment and basic gear knowledge; Fire Fighting 2 — practical live firefighting; Hazardous Material Awareness; Hazardous Material Operations — mitigation of hazardous material; and Airport Rescue and Firefighting — airfield and aircraft familiarization.
The graduates have earned the Navy Enlisted Classification Code D13A — shore base airport and aircraft firefighter and now join the more than 110 F&ES Reserve Sailors augmenting fire stations on installations around the world.
“Even if you’re not an ABH (aviation boatswain’s mate [handling]), if you’re on the ship, you get a good amount of shipboard firefighting training,’ said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Mark Sumabat, a former active duty ABH from Manila, Philippines who cross-rated to corpsman in the Navy Reserve. “When I went back to the Reserve, I was assigned to a firefighting unit. Regardless of your rating in the Navy, you train for the billet.”
The Navy’s shore based airport and aircraft firefighter qualification is normally available to active-duty personnel in the ABH rating, but has been available to primary non-ABH personnel assigned to Navy Reserve CNIC F&ES since 2015.
“Honestly, being a firefighter and being a corpsman, kind of goes hand in hand,” said Sumabat. “(They) kind of compliments each other because I believe the corpsman training, right now, the first part would be EMT [emergency medical technician] basic and being a firefighter, it also requires you to at least get your EMT basic certification to work in the ambulance, and to be able to handle patients.”
“The AB (aviation boatswain’s mate) experience I had helped with this course because we talked about firefighting on the flight deck,” said Electrician’s Mate 2nd Class Samantha Him, from Jacksonville, North Carolina, referring to her prior experience with aircraft fire fighting on active duty. “But I had to erase it blank and not apply it here because it’s different firefighting techniques.”
The Reserve F&ES program was created in 2007 with 60 Sailors and two detachments. The original locations in Fort Dix, New Jersey and San Diego, have since expanded with detachments in Jacksonville, Florida; Norfolk; and the international detachment located in Fort Worth, Texas providing worldwide installation support.
Fire stations on Navy installations are primarily manned by a civilian workforce, with a small contingent of active-duty Sailors. The F&ES Reserve Sailors are fully trained and equipped to provide support whenever and wherever needed — especially in the case of a natural or manmade disaster.
The Navy Installations Command team is comprised of approximately 3,500 Reservists spanning a wide range of units around the world. The Navy Reserve helps augment the Navy Installations Command team of active duty Sailors and civilians responsible for the operations, maintenance and quality of life programs supporting the Navy's fleet, Sailors and their families. The Reserve force's flexibility, responsiveness and ability to serve across a wide spectrum of operations clearly enhances the Navy total force.