Columbus AFB Fire Department continues to advance Airmen through training during pandemic Published April 14, 2020 By Airman 1st Class Jake Jacobsen 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- While the nation navigates its way through the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, Columbus Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services (FES) is focused on maintaining readiness and protecting the members of Columbus AFB in support of the 14th Flying training Wing’s mission. To carry on servicing the base and its community, the Columbus FES has continued the training of its Airmen for peak performance as training is a key departmental function that ensures the ability to provide effective emergency response. As the 14th Civil Engineer Squadron gains additional Airmen in the Fire Department, senior leaders continue to push the current apprentice level Airmen to get their 5-level journeymen training completed. “We have to make room for the new Airmen joining us in the department and fill different positions in the fire truck, said Tech Sgt. Michael Mucha, 14th CES station captain. “Our current 3-levels can’t stay at the bottom of the totem pole so we need to train them to be able to step into the next role.” The Driver Operator Aircraft Rescue Firefighting practical skill evaluations is a part of their initial 5-level upgrade training where Airmen complete a drivers course and conduct vehicle modulating operations. The driver’s course evaluates a candidate’s ability to safety drive a fire vehicle through a series of graded obstacles and scenarios. Upon successful completion of evaluations the members will be capable of operating an ARFF apparatus. “These vehicles and the Airmen that operate them are what provide us the ability to fight aircraft fires and are essential to our support of flying operations,” said Master Sgt. Jeffrey Ball, Deputy Fire Chief, 14th CES/CEF. “The scenarios are designed to test the Airman’s knowledge, skills and abilities to the fullest extent possible. Successful completion shows that they are capable of safely mitigating the hazards associated with driving a fire apparatus during an emergency response.” Ball is also responsible for ensuring Columbus AFB FES has implemented safety procedures in compliance with all applicable Defense Department, Air Force, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 14th FTW guidance regarding COVID-19 include maximizing physical distancing to the best possible extent. When physical distancing cannot be maintained, members are utilizing cloth face coverings that meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and DoD protective guidelines. “With the mission critical nature of our profession, physical distancing and proper hygiene is critical,” Ball said. “We will continue to apply operational principles and risk management in order to meet the 14th FTW commander’s Priority 1: Ensure safe and compliant operations. This is paramount to everything we do as a Wing to meet the Air Force's goal to fly, fight and win in air, space, and cyberspace. Our people are our unique advantage and anything less than safe and compliant operations puts their lives at risk. This is also in-line with 19th Air Force's first principle of "professional, disciplined and effective training”. Ball said through positive professionalism, competence, character and core values, the Columbus AFB FES delivers full spectrum fire and emergency services to Team Blaze, its partners and the community.