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NEWS | June 2, 2022

JBLE Participates in 30th Marine Fire Fighting Symposium

By Abraham Essenmacher Joint Base Langley-Eustis Public Affairs

100 Hampton Roads firefighters completed the 30th Marine Fire Fighting Symposium May 16-21, covering more than 50 hours of classroom and practical training.

The event utilized Joint Base Langley-Eustis maritime assets, the 733d Logistics Readiness Squadron harbormaster, 733d Civil Engineer Squadron fire department, James River Reserve Fleet, and the 7th Transportation Brigade-Expeditionary.

The course was designed to equip a land-based firefighter with the knowledge and skills to respond to an incident and operate in the proximity of a vessel, dock area or to provide support functions in the cold and warm zone on board a vessel.

“The Hampton Roads region gains a lot from this training because firefighters throughout the eastern shore gain knowledge and experience to handle various all-hazards situations,” said Bill Burket, The Port of Virginia’s Maritime Instant Response and Business Continuity senior director. “Much of that is because this training develops and builds on partnerships, so they know who and what is available to them.”

The course also provided the combined awareness and operations-level training to perform defensive-level operations at a marine incident. Participants learned marine responses which included jurisdiction, operating in the marine environment, terminology, types of ships and facilities, problems unique to marine responses, and tactical considerations.

“75 percent of our students are land-based firefighters, and there’s no way that the Port of Virginia could handle all of its area,” said Chris Baker, Port of Virginia instant response operations chief. “We have them come and train with us to help spread out the effort if something happens.”

According to Baker, participants are split up from their conventional workplace counterparts and grouped with individuals they might not work with on a day-to-day basis, encouraging training with other team members and learning how other firefighters operate.

During one simulation, teams responded to casualties aboard a ship that lost all operational systems. The task was to create a water supply from fireboats which were located on the starboard side of the vessel. The teams then had to safely board the ship and dress out in their personal protective equipment and assess spaces that were experiencing casualties.

“The partnership is invaluable, and receiving hands-on experience mixing the Coast Guard rescue efforts along with the firefighters, the systems they are using and how it all interlocks helps our ability to save lives,” said U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Erica Elfguinn, chief of responses for Coast Guard Sector Virginia.

Since 1992, 5,000 firefighters have participated in the training symposium which has included firefighters from Europe, Canada, and South American nations.

After this latest iteration, these participants will have the ability to return to their respective departments with knowledge and experience that can be called upon to save ships and the lives of mariners who operate in waters surrounding Virginia.