Fort Leonard Wood firefighters work to extinguish a jet fuel fire during a training exercise May 8 at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit at Training Area 207.
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Leonard Wood firefighters work to extinguish a jet fuel fire during a training exercise May 8 at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit at Training Area 207. (Photo Credit: Photo by Amanda Sullivan, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Leonard Wood firefighters work to extinguish a jet fuel fire during a training exercise May 8 at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit at Training Area 207.
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Leonard Wood firefighters work to extinguish a jet fuel fire during a training exercise May 8 at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit at Training Area 207. (Photo Credit: Photo by Amanda Sullivan, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL
Fort Leonard Wood firefighters work to extinguish a jet fuel fire during a training exercise May 8 at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit at Training Area 207.
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Fort Leonard Wood firefighters work to extinguish a jet fuel fire during a training exercise May 8 at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit at Training Area 207. (Photo Credit: Photo by Amanda Sullivan, Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office) VIEW ORIGINAL

FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — The weather wasn’t the only thing scorching here last week. Thirty-eight civilian and military firefighters with the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department braved unseasonably warm temperatures to conduct two days of training on May 9 and 10 at Training Area 207.

The training at the Aircraft Rescue Firefighting Pit simulated large-volume fuel fires — a type of fire that Fort Leonard Wood Fire Chief Bradley Bowling said would usually be seen during an aircraft fire or crash, or fuel tanker accident on the highway.

“The big danger with these types of incidents is the fact that the fuel will move or flow based on the topography around you, putting the crews and surrounding areas in more danger,” he said. “This training reinforces how to contain the fuel, so it doesn’t spread.”

According to Troy Michels, Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department assistant chief of training, to simulate a fuel fire, the burn pit is filled with water, and then 300 gallons of jet fuel that is stored in another tank is released into the pit through underground piping, where it floats on top of the water. Two teams of firefighters then work together to contain and extinguish the fire.

Aqueous film forming foam would typically be used to extinguish a fire of this type, but using water intentionally adds a level of challenge to the training, Bowling said.

“Using water makes it more difficult, and also forces crews to be very methodical in their tactics, because the fuel can be splashed around, causing the fire to grow,” he said.

The hands-on training gives firefighters the opportunity to better understand what is expected of them, and how they should function as an individual or part of a team in an emergency, Michels said.

“The training ensures a smooth operation and helps keep themselves and their fellow firefighters safe,” he said.

This semi-annual event is just one of many trainings Fort Leonard Wood firefighters complete regularly to ensure they provide top-notch services in times of need, Bowling said. Crews spend more than 200 hours a year covering a diverse variety of mandatory topics to keep their skills sharp.

“People don’t realize just how diverse our responses are,” Bowling said. “We respond to many different types of calls, including structure fires, aircraft fires, wildland fires, natural gas and hazardous materials incidents, medical calls, technical rescue calls, swift water and boat rescue calls, active-shooter incidents, as well as all of our public education and inspection sections.”

Before conducting any training like this, however, officials said it is important to work with the Directorate of Public Works Environmental Division.

“Our fire department works with DPW Environmental to ensure everything is in compliance with environmental regulations regarding these training scenarios,” said Charlie Neel, DPW Environmental Division chief.

Michels said he wants the people who live and work on Fort Leonard Wood to know their fire department is always here and ready to assist them at any given time.

“Sometimes, it may be the worst day of their life,” he said, “We take pride in being a professional fire department, and will do our best to help them in their time of need.”