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Joint firefighter training conducted at Lawson Army Airfield

Story by Bryan Gatchell, Fort Benning Public Affairs

FORT BENNING, Ga. — A crew of Fort Benning firefighters pulled the hose from their truck to the fire blazing up from nearly door-size rectangular plates laying on the airfield tarmac Dec. 18 until the flame was extinguished.

A bright green fire engine from Columbus Airport (CSG) pulled up close to a mock-up C-130 fuselage, and its crew shot water from a cannon over a flame as the Fort Benning crew went inside the fuselage to put out more fires and rescue lumpy training mannequins.

The emergency service crews from both Fort Benning and from Columbus Airport (CSG) trained together on post at Lawson Army Airfield on the mobile large-frame aircraft fire trainer, which simulated ground fires, engine fires and interior fires.

The training event is a continuation of Fort Benning’s Directorate of Emergency Services partnership with its counterparts in the neighboring communities. This is the first time Fort Benning has trained with the Columbus Airport firefighting team. Assistant Chief Ryan Earwood, Fort Benning Fire Department, saw the training as a mutually beneficial learning event.

“We get to look at other departments’ operations and see if there are things we can take away from them and vice versa,” said Earwood.

Fort Benning firefighters must perform aircraft fire training yearly.

“Airport firefighting is completely different from structural firefighting,” said Earwood. “Tactics, strategies, fuel load: all completely different. And we have to rewire these guys to think that this is not a building that’s on fire, it’s an aircraft.”

Raymond Keeler and Marion Anderson, Columbus Airport emergency personnel, came out to the training event. In addition to their duties as firefighting personnel, Keeler and Anderson must also perform as police officers and emergency medical technicians.

Typically Columbus Airport emergency personnel would perform their aircraft firefighting training in Atlanta. But due to Lawson Army Airfield’s relative proximity to Columbus, Georgia, training at Fort Benning meant a cost saving for the commercial airport.

Earwood said the training is also valuable for both organizations if ever a larger scale emergency were to occur in the area and require the mobilization of several communities’ emergency services.

“We understand their capabilities and limitations, and they know our capabilities and limitations as well,” he said.

“They have more trucks than we do, more personnel, so they’re able to do the entry into the aircraft,” said Keeler. “Right now we don’t have the personnel to enter into the aircraft, so we suppress it (the fire), give an escape for the passengers.

To learn more about emergency services at Fort Benning, see the “Related Links” section on this page.

If confronted with a police, fire or medical emergency, call 911.

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