By Spc. Roland Hale CAB Public Affairs, 1st Inf. Div., USD-CApril 10, 2010
CAMP TAJI, Iraq - It is considered routine to see aircraft and Soldiers working on the flight-line at Camp Taji; it is not routine to see the flashing lights of fire trucks and men and women in flame-retardant outfits scrambling toward an aircraft.
To prepare for the unfortunate event of a downed aircraft, Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, Combat Aviation Brigade, joined forces with Camp Taji firefighters to practice for such an emergency April 6.
The firefighters responded to a simulated electrical fire on one of the squadron's OH-58D Kiowa Warriors. Surrounding the aircraft as it sat "burning" on Camp Taji's flight-line, the firefighters practiced dousing the fire and rescuing the pilots.
Camp Taji firefighters routinely practice such fire drills on other types of military helicopters, but they said this was their first experience with the Kiowa, an aircraft that has not been at Camp Taji for quite some time. A compact, dual-seated observation helicopter, the Kiowa presents fire crews with different challenges from the other aircraft.
"It's a lot smaller than a Black Hawk or a Chinook. It can be a lot tougher to get the pilots out and shut down the systems," said firefighter Kevin Wichel after conducting the training. "It's good to get the training now."
The crews will continue to train on the Kiowa and other aircraft during the CAB deployment and plan to conduct an aircraft fire drill at least once a month.
Throughout the training, Cavalry pilots will also continue to train firefighters on the Kiowa's unique systems in order to help them develop procedures that could save the pilot's lives.
"We [are teaching] them how to get us out safely and how to shut down the systems in a timely manner," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Sheldon Gresham, Troop C, 1-6. "I was able to talk to them and show them the ins and outs of the air-frame."
Over the course of the last year, there have been no reported aircraft-related fires on Camp Taji - a standard CAB pilots say they aim to continue.