SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- --
Senior leadership experienced first-hand what Schriever Fire Department firefighters and emergency workers do during a series of fire training exercises at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, June 4.
Col. Brian Kehl, commander of the 50th Mission Support Group, and Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Tester, superintendent of the 50th MSG, battled flames and smoke-filled rooms then operated the Jaws of Life while adorned in fire equipment in the summer heat.
“I always had respect for these individuals, but seeing how difficult the training is, and all the things they have to think about while they are going through the process to help somebody - it’s amazing,” Kehl said.
After an informal tour, Kehl and Tester donned their equipment, complete with their own custom labeled helmets, before the event’s first exercise; using a firehose to put out flames from a car frame.
First individually, then together, Kehl and Tester successfully extinguished the flames.
“They walked us through what to do; it’s outstanding training,” Kehl said. “The mix of safety protocol combined with trying to be quick to rescue a person and put out fires is challenging.”
Their next exercise was deconstructing a car using hammers, axes, the Jaws of Life and other tools to simulate rescuing a trapped passenger after a car crash.
Kehl said indulging in the rare opportunity to snap off bolts, smash glass and tear off whole car doors was not only entertaining, it helped him gain a whole new appreciation of the physical prowess required of SFD personnel.
“It’s amazing how much physical energy and stamina it takes to be able to do these tasks,” Kehl said. “The physical exertion, wearing the hot gear, holding the heavy equipment in addition to the heat of the fire shows you have to be in good shape to do this.”
“It was quite a workout,” Tester added. “But every guy likes to break stuff, so tearing apart that car was pretty fun.”
The final exercise involved rescuing a dummy civilian from a smoke-filled complex.
Adding to the challenge was a 160 pound dummy located on the second floor, requiring Kehl and Tester to navigate through the dense smoke to find the stairs, assisted by a SFD firefighter with a flashlight leading the way.
Allen Perry, deputy fire chief with the SFD, said he was impressed with Kehl and Tester’s performance during this event, praising their ability to adapt and work as a team.
“They performed outstanding,” he said. “The entire process of completing all three events takes a lot of stamina.”
Tester admits he wasn’t fully prepared for the challenge, however, he learned a lot from the experience.
“I didn’t know what to expect when I came out here, but I was pleasantly surprised,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work, and these exercises are just a small glimpse of the hard work they do every day.”
Kehl said if the opportunity arises, he would gladly participate in the exercises again; saying they allowed him to see the obstacles his son, who’s planning to go into the emergency services career field, will experience.
“It’s really helpful to understand what they’re going through and what he’ll face,” he said.
SFD personnel saw benefits as well.
“We always like having senior leadership out here,” said Tracey Snyder, assistant chief of training with the SFD. “It’s good for morale, the firefighters like helping them out and the experience leaders get is invaluable.”