ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Airmen here flew to the nearby island of Saipan, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands (CNMI), Feb. 12, to familiarize and assist Saipan International Airport firefighters on safety procedures and hazards when responding to emergencies involving F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft.
The Marianas region hosts several large-scale exercises on a regular basis, as well as aviation training relocation events from bases in Japan, where significant numbers of fighter aircraft train and operate in the airspace over CNMI islands and Guam. Awareness and training on procedures related to potential aircraft emergencies involving those platforms is crucial to ensure the safety of both aircrews and emergency responders, Andersen Air Force Base officials said.
"We're training the firefighters on how to effectively respond to situations involving the aircraft," said Stanley Torres, the 36th Civil Engineer Squadron fire and emergency services chief of training at Andersen AFB. "Our guys here from Andersen (AFB), as well as the maintenance crew for the F-16, worked with them and showed the different parts of the fighter (that are relevant to a potential emergency)."
The teams included members from the Andersen AFB Fire Department, 36th Security Forces Squadron, 36th Wing Safety office, 36th Civil Engineer Squadron's emergency management and explosive ordnance disposal flights, as well as F-16 pilots and maintainers deployed from the 35th Fighter Wing, at Misawa Air Base, Japan. Since the F-16 is one of the aircraft used in aviation training relocation events, this training was geared towards preparing Saipan first responders for a runway emergency involving the F-16.
During the training, the Saipan firefighters were able to point out specific hazardous parts of the aircraft such as the engine and where the weapons are housed. Andersen AFB first responder Eric Masur, went over how to safely rescue the pilot from the aircraft in the event the pilot cannot eject or egress.
"I basically explained how to get the pilot out safely from the cockpit, if the canopy doesn't lift, they will need to safely break the canopy," Masur said. "I believe that the Saipan firefighters are confident and will perform successfully if there ever is an emergency."
After exchanging lessons learned and best practices, the Andersen delegation continued the lesson with a hands-on tour of an F-16 aircraft from Misawa.
"After today's training, I have gained so much knowledge on this aircraft and I feel I am prepared to respond and perform in the event of an emergency," said Jesse Salas, Saipan firefighter. "We don't get this kind of training often so I am truly thankful to the members of Andersen that came out to help us today."
Andersen officials are hoping to continue working alongside the Saipan firefighters in the future.
"The Saipan responders were a pleasure to work with, with the training led by our military teams, I am confident they will be able to perform successfully," Torres said.