MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
The tones sound the alarm, and a group of firefighters rush to get ready. Putting on flame-retardant suits, they cover themselves from head to toe and they pile in a truck, not knowing what to expect.
As the sirens blare, they listen to the call over the radio. Every detail is important and the seconds tick by until they arrive at the scene.
“When headed on a call, getting information through dispatch is very important,” said Brynne Burrough, the Air Station Structural Fire Department assistant fire chief. “It is our lifeline to the world while we are on a call.”
Black smoke billows out of the windows, and the door is hot to the touch. Armed with a hose and prepared to fight with the man next to him, they enter the building in search of the victim.
“When I arrive at a fire, the first thought that goes through my mind is, are there any lives that need to be saved,” said Capt. Mark Morris, the Air Station Structural Fire Department lead firefighter.
The commander on scene calls out orders from outside the training building. The fire is extinguished, the rescue dummy is safe outside and the firefighters make it through another simulated fire.
For the men that work at the Air Station Structural Fire Department, training can be the difference between life and death.
Along with hands-on training which includes fires and simulated smoke, there is also plenty of time spent in the classroom. They attend classes on water rescue, emergency medical service training, hazardous materials and more.
When the firefighters gear up from their boots to their helmet, the air tank they wear and the tools and hose they carry can weigh up to 45 pounds. Along with their clothes, they also carry radios and a thermal imaging camera to help them navigate the blaze.
While wearing the gear, they enter a burning building not knowing what to expect. According to Morris, a normal house with normal room content can reach up to 1,200 degrees within the first few minutes of the fire starting.
“As a firefighter, we are providing a vital service to the community,” said Burrough. “We train like we do because it’s important to stay ahead of the power curve.
“Training is key as a firefighter,” Burrough added. “If there is a deficiency, during training is where we can identify it, not on the scene.”
For a firefighter, training is neverending. He trains for the victim’s safety in any situation as well as for the firefighters standing next to him.