Firefighters Don The JFIRE, Conduct Live Fire Training
by U.S. Space Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas
Space Launch Delta 30 Public Affairs
May 1, 2022
The J-FIRE, or joint firefighter integrated response ensemble, is a unique set of equipment that firefighters wear when responding to chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear (CBRN) emergencies.
These firefighters have to be qualified and trained to use this gear, and at Vandenberg Space Force Base, they don the J-FIRE annually. Tech. Sgt. Marvin Lilly, the NCOIC of Logistics here at Vandenberg Fire and Emergency Services, is the lead for this iteration of the training.
April 7, 2022 - A team of firefighters put out a fire around a training aircraft during the joint firefighter integrated readiness ensemble training exercise on Vandenberg Space Force Base, California. The Vandenberg Fire Department trains on JFIRE annually to retain their certification. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Space Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ryan Quijas.)
“First and foremost we have to work with the 30th Logistics Readiness Squadron to get the gear we need,” Lilly said. “Then, after we set the dates and times with the different shifts at the fire station, we head out to the training area to get started.”
Every service member has to go through CBRN certification at their respective basic trainings, but for these firefighters, there are a few tweaks to their gear as opposed to the standard joint service lightweight integrated suit technology (JLIST) ensemble.
“We wear the standard trousers, coat, and gloves,” Lilly said. “The mask however is different compared to the standard M50. So we do have the normal ensemble elements, but we’re wearing this all under our fire gear.”
The firefighters wear an estimated 75 pounds of gear when responding to emergencies in CBRN environments, which is over 60 pounds heavier than the standard JLIST ensemble.
In the live fire portion of the training, there is team staged in a vehicle, a team on the ground with a hose, and a contingency team in case anything were to go wrong.
“The first thing that we would do when we arrive on scene in response to a fire on an aircraft, which is what we’re training with, is to have a team roaming the aircraft with a vehicle that sprays water to put out any spot fires, and cool the aircraft’s fuselage,“ Lilly said. “Following that, crews are then permitted to make entry into the aircraft.”
As always, safety is paramount, so there are multiple safety officers on site during the training, with the lead safety officer carrying a switch that gets flipped if a firefighter taps their helmet three times. After that signal is given, the officers will then take the necessary steps to get their firefighters out safely.
Following the training, firefighters are reminded to hydrate and refuel their bodies immediately after the gear is taken off. Though this unit has a different mission than other fire departments, they still make the time to make the training happen.
“So as firefighters on Vandenberg, our duties can be a little different because of the mission here, having to monitor static fires for rockets and be on standby prior to, during, and after a launch. So since we only do this training annually, we make it a big deal and worthwhile.” Lilly said.
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