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NEWS | June 17, 2014

Firefighters participate in mutual aid training at JBSA-Randolph

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

Firefighters from Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph and Universal City paired up to put out controlled live fires June 12 at the JBSA-Randolph fire training grounds across from the east runway as outdoor temperatures reached the 90s.

The Universal City Fire Department recently purchased self-controlled breathing apparatuses, so the day's main objective was for them to test the new equipment while JBSA-Randolph firefighters assisted in tactical operations to brush up their skills, Scott Ridenour, JBSA Fire Emergency Services assistant chief of training, said.

"We worked on getting crews in and out of the (training) building while communicating verbally and electronically through radio," Staff Sgt. Erik Chittick, 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Emergency Services NCO in charge of training, said. "After knocking out the fire, we were briefed on our performance."

As part of the Combined Emergency Services Organization, JBSA-Randolph and several local fire departments strive to complete mutual aid training every quarter.

"Mutual aid training allows us to work together with other fire departments so we can learn each other's strategies and tactics," Ridenour said. "In this case, we provided a facility to practice jointly."

About 30 fully-geared firefighters took turns in teams entering and exiting a multi-story structure.

Chittick said the uniforms alone weigh 65 to 70 pounds, making him feel like a "baked potato" when it's hot outside, but that firefighters get used to them with experience and strength, cardio training.

At the roughly seven-hour-long training, firefighters networked and soaked up as much shade as they could in between drills.

"It's good to get to know each other and build trust in case we have to respond to incidents together," Matt Bass, a Universal City firefighter, said, citing car crashes as a common scenario for combined efforts.

"This kind of teamwork not only allows us to network, but also learn each other's terrain and how we operate," Chittick said. "We're learning from other fire departments as much as they're learning from us."