KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan -- Afghan firefighters from the Kandahar Air Wing participated in a live-burn exercise, March 29, 2011, which marked the first time the group demonstrated battling an internal structure fire at Kandahar Air Field.

"Before the live-burn exercise," said Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Berry, 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group fire protection adviser, Afghan firefighters have done only simulated structural firefighting with basic searches, drags and carries."

"We've practiced basic fire fighting theory - hose advancements and different patterns for fighting different types of fires, but never live-burn training until now," Berry explained.

The five Afghan firefighters and Berry, who is deployed from the 48th Fighter Wing, Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, joined a Rapid Intervention Team, or RIT, of Soldiers from the 323rd Engineer Detachment, deployed from the 507th Firefighting Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas, during the training. The RIT served as standby, non-playing entity, used to rescue downed firefighters during training operations.

The firefighters used a rusty, portable, storage container riddled with blast holes from a rocket attack to simulate house the internal fire.

Once the Afghan firefighters opened the door and saw the fire, they sprayed the water stream against the ceiling to knock down the blaze and made a quick entry.

The container gets steamy and hot fast, so they had to ventilate the space, said Berry.

To start the ventilation process and put out the blaze, they used a combination of direct and indirect approaches, which prevented pushing the fire into another location and allowed the smoke to escape through the hole in the wall, he added.

"They did very good, and I was very pleased with them," said Berry, who has been a firefighter for more than 15 years. "They took in the basic fundamentals we talked about building up to this event. "[The Afghan firefighters] are overzealous, and I don't blame them because I'm overzealous every time I go into a fire as well."

With the success of the first training event, Berry said he expects to conduct more live-burn training in the future, about once per month, to include additional training in which fire-suppressant foam which will be used to separate and smother fires ignited by more than 50 gallons of fuel.

The Afghan firefighters' leadership, also in attendance, shared Berry's expectations of future training.

"My guys did a good job, and they get better day by day," said Brig. Gen. Mohammed Yousuf, Kandahar Air Wing deputy commander. "We're always talking about how we can improve training and equipment with the new firefighters coming here from firefighting school in Kabul."

Currently, here are 11 Afghan Kandahar Air Wing firefighters assigned to Kandahar Airfield, a significant increase from October 2010; one year after the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group began its training mission.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16