By Tech. Sgt. Phyllis E. Keith, 624th Regional Support Group Public Affairs
Firefighters assigned to the 624th Civil Engineering Squadron donned silver fire proximity suits and formed up in teams of two to practice their structural live fire skills Jan. 10 at the Hickam Fire Department’s training area.
“Live-fire exercises bring us closer together and allow us to work as a team,” said Chief Master Sgt. Desmond Yogi, assistant fire chief with the 624th CES.
After Tech. Sgt. Kaohilii Romualdo, the 624th CES’s assistant chief of training, gave the safety briefing, the firefighters drove to the live-fire facility where they laid out the fire hoses and suited up. Their mission was to enter a structure to put out a simulated kitchen fire that was fueled by propane gas.
The exercise began with the first team approaching a closed door. Senior Airman Warren Duke and Staff Sgt. Michael Fong-Aiu stayed low as they waited for the safety officer, Tech. Sgt. Kaweo Andreas-Feeney, to test the heat level of the door with his hand. Andreas-Feeney then opened the door and signaled the team to enter.
“It’s always two in and two out so we know everyone’s accounted for and our safety’s good,” Duke said.
Duke and Fong-Aiu used a clockwise pattern at a 30 degree angle to douse the fire that had engulfed the entire room. Once the fire was extinguished, they sprayed a fog of water on the ceiling to cool the air.
Duke, one of the newest firefighters to the unit, is a college student who is still looking for his first civilian firefighter job.
“We have a mix of everybody coming together today,” said Yogi. Yogi said 97 percent of the 624th CES’ Reservists are civilian firefighters with federal, state, county and airport fire departments in Hawaii.
Five more teams of two received hands-on training with the more experienced firefighters there to guide them.
Duke said that his fellow Air Force Reserve firefighters were like a brotherhood and he benefited from their experience.
“All I can do is absorb their wisdom and be as good as them one day,” he said.
The commander of the 624th CES, Lt. Col. Reid Matsuda, said the exercise helped the unit fulfill an annual requirement for the status of resources and training system (SORTS) that measures the health of their day-to-day preparedness and ability to execute in a major theater of war.
The 624th CES is manned with approximately 30 firefighters who can be ready to deploy with 72 hours’ notice.