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Joint fire training in a flash

By Airman 1st Class Soo C. Kim | | August 13, 2013

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There's a fire burning inside a red container. Firefighters are already at the scene, but they aren't there to put it out; they're there to lock themselves inside and experience what happens next. 

The fire burns brighter, smoke rises higher and the heat begins to concentrate at the center. Suddenly, the room ignites. 

It's a training scenario for the firefighter's worst nightmare -- flashover. 

To train, educate and save lives, the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighters hosted a joint training session here July 29 with Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Aircraft Rescue firefighters. 

"A flashover is a near simultaneous ignition of every object in a confined room," said Master Sgt. Jon Ammon, the assistant chief of training with the 374th CES. 

During a fire, heat builds up in a structure's ceiling and creates a thick layer of smoke. Without proper ventilation the heat cannot escape and increases to a higher temperature until it combusts. 

The training was held in a controlled training environment, simulating a flashover fire in a closed container with limited ventilation. A seasoned instructor monitored firefighters inside and base firefighters were on standby just outside the door, in case of an emergency. 

"This training is necessary because it gives firefighters a basis to recognize a deadly situation," Ammon said. "Flashover has injured and killed dozens of firefighters over the years. It is so deadly that many of our fire regulations are built around flashover such as response times and personal protection clothing capability." 

Being focused on aircraft rescue, the flashover training was a unique experience for the visiting Marines. 

"We had a twelve hour bus ride, but the training was definitely worth it," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Nathan Lanham, the ARFF section leader. "A lot of these guys haven't seen flashover before, and this was their first opportunity to experience it." 

More joint firefighter training opportunities are scheduled at Yokota Air Base, Japan, this year. 

"We got to train on a situation unique to us over in Iwankuni and had a chance to foster high morale with our fellow firefighters," Lanham said. "All in all, I'd say this was a mission complete for our guys." 

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