FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – The Directorate of Emergency Services’ (DES) Fire & Emergency Services Division partnered with Davis-Monthan Air Force Base personnel to conduct fighter jet rescue training on Sept. 23 at Libby Army Airfield.
Primary crash crews from Fire Station 3 and follow-on forces from the remaining fire stations here got their hands on an Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon to gain familiarity with aircraft controls, hazards, engine-shutdown and pilot-removal procedures in the event of an inflight emergency or aircraft ground emergency.
“Fort Huachuca Fire and Emergency Services are conducting F-16 rescue procedures training critical to the ongoing airport-rescue, fire-fighting mission,” said David Pearson, assistant chief of training for Fire & Emergency Services Division, DES.
Fire and Emergency Services Division provides these services for all military aircraft in the airspace above Libby Army Airfield, Pearson explained.
“We are supporting a joint operation to provide training for firefighters to get to know the F-16 better,” said Air Force Col. Max Vollkommer, commander of 612th Air Operations Center and F-16 pilot for 162nd Fighter Wing, Arizona Air National Guard in Tucson, Arizona.
Davis-Monthan AFB’s air assets primarily divert to LAAF based on the proximity of air operations, he said.
“We are utilizing this great day to get out here on the ramp, so the firefighters have familiarity with the emergency action systems,” Vollkommer commented. “If there is a situation or the if the aircrew needs extricating from the aircraft, then firefighters have the ability to do so.”
Pearson added that this training is commonly conducted in a classroom but being able to put hands on an actual aircraft and gain familiarity with aircraft controls, hazards and engine shutdown/pilot removal procedures in the event of an inflight emergency or aircraft ground emergency is invaluable.
“Seeing pictures of aircraft controls and descriptions of their activation sequence is one thing, but quickly locating and activating in the proper sequence amongst the relative panoply of other switches is a skill that takes practice,” Pearson emphasized. “Having the opportunity to improve this skill set is invaluable to the maintenance required to remain proficient in delivering fire and emergency services in the aerospace environment.”
Vollkommer guided all the Fire & Emergency Services personnel on how to open the canopy of the cockpit by exterior means and how to locate switches and harness releases to extricate a pilot who is unconscious or gravely injured.
“Actually coming out and getting your hands on [the aircraft] is how you’re going to remember things,” said Lt. Tammy Ritenour, firefighter from Fire Station 3. “It’s awesome when an aircraft comes in, and we get the opportunity to put the pins in and practice some of the things we talk about.”
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Fort Huachuca is home to the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, the U.S. Army Network Enterprise Technology Command (NETCOM)/9th Army Signal Command and more than 48 supported tenants representing a diverse, multiservice population. Our unique environment encompasses 946 square miles of restricted airspace and 2,500 square miles of protected electronic ranges, key components to the national defense mission.
Located in Cochise County, in southeast Arizona, about 15 miles north of the border with Mexico, Fort Huachuca is an Army installation with a rich frontier history. Established in 1877, the Fort was declared a national landmark in 1976.
We are the Army’s Home. Learn more at https://home.army.mil/huachuca/.