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JBSA firefighters conduct emergency egress exercise

  • Published
  • By Brian J. Valencia
  • 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Firefighters from the 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas conducted an emergency response egress exercise Aug. 19, 2022, testing their abilities from the initial call and response, to arriving on scene and rescuing the pilot.

For the responders, these exercises allow them to gain familiarity with the aircraft and its hazards. They get hands-on experience with normal and emergency entry of the aircraft, how to safety the ejection seat, shut down the oxygen and engines, and how to safely exit, or egress, the pilot.

Michael Guzman, 902nd CES deputy fire chief, stressed how critical the aircraft rescue is to the proficiency training of their operations on the runways.

“Honestly, it is the difference between life and death that our members know, study, train and practice on any aircraft assigned to Joint Base-San Antonio or any transient aircraft passing through,” he said. “We can replace the aircraft, but we cannot replace a life.”

For this exercise the 902nd CES partnered with the 149th Fighter Wing, Air National Guard, which provided the F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft and pilot. Working with an actual aircraft allows the firefighters to maintain the muscle memory that is critical to have in case of a real-world emergency.

“It is critical and essential that we train with all of our mission partners,” Guzman said. “Our skills can diminish, so if you don’t practice, you could have a hard time remembering all the critical steps. We must have hands-on training with the aircraft. It is the key to our success.”

The unit’s training program requires them to conduct aircraft egress training semi-annually, but to stay proficient with new firefighters coming onboard, they strive to conduct the training at least quarterly if not more often.

“The completion of a good hands-on session provides the type of confidence you can’t get from just reading a manual,” said Dionysus Smith, 902nd CES assistant chief of operations for Fire Station 2. “You are able to see landmarks, how you actually fit in an area, and how different temperatures affect your performance."

“Hands-on training not only gives our personnel the opportunity to put their skills to the test, but it provides a personal touch with our mission partners and knowledge with their aircraft,” Smith added.

Performing these exercises as often as possible also allows the firefighter to gain experience in many different roles. They are able to switch responsibilities and put themselves in position to take on any task in an emergency.

“It's imperative that everyone knows what their position or assigned duty will be on a particular day,” said Lawrence Salinas, 902nd CES fire station chief. “The ultimate goal is with consistent training as a cohesive team member, our firefighters will be familiar with all positions and what is required, without hesitation.”

Guzman spoke of the honor to serve and protect the 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA community. He said our team takes great pride in being prepared to fight fire or save a life.

Smith echoed Guzman’s sentiment to the JBSA community.

“When the tones sound off, we will be there, we will be ready, and we will prevail. Thank you for allowing us to serve you.”

For more on this egress exercise check out this video Hot Shot! - MAYDAY-MAYDAY!! -- F-16 EGRESS EXERCISE