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NEWS | Oct. 2, 2020

We didn’t start the fire: Fort Eustis Firefighters practice like they play

By Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Firefighters assigned to the 733d Civil Engineer Division conducted a training exercise at Felker Army Air Field, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Sept. 24, 2020.

The event was designed to enhance the firefighters’ skill in extinguishing a live fire on a helicopter.

Kirk McKinley, 733d Civil Engineer Division assistant chief of training, stressed the importance of training in the life of a firefighter.

“When our firefighters are working a call, lives are at risk—most times their own,” said McKinley, who supervised the exercise. “Training ingrains behaviors that are used in our responses and actions. My specific role in protecting the community is ensuring our firefighters are prepared to handle any situation they may encounter by providing the necessary training to perform flawlessly.”

The exercise involved a mock-up helicopter, which the assistant chief of training ignited with a control device. Upon notification of the simulated emergency, the fire crew dashed onto the scene in their vehicles to douse the flames. A mannequin was also placed next to the helicopter, simulating a victim who the crew had to rescue.

After the fire had been extinguished, McKinley gathered his team to brief them on what they did well and how they can improve. He also made sure they knew how proud he was of them.

“We have a great team of firefighters here,” said McKinley. “We are a tight group and family as we are with each other for a 24-hour shift every other day. Our lives are placed in our fellow firefighters’ hands during those times of need.”

McKinley added that his team doesn’t just fight fires. They reach out and educate members of the community on how to prevent fires from occurring. This includes visiting schools,conducting presentations to students, and participating in community events.

McKinley remained confident in his department’s ability to face whatever emergencies may threaten the community. While others may run away from danger, McKinley and his team confront it head-on.

“Our profession doesn’t stop when things get bad, that’s typically when it gets going,” he said. “Firefighting is a wonderful career. It allows us to help people sometimes at their lowest point, or in peril. We have the ability to react quickly to an ever changing-situation and make life-saving decisions and actions.”