News: Firefighters spark student imaginations on flightline
Story by Lance Cpl. Nicholas Ranum
OKINAWA, Japan - Students from Bechtel Elementary School visited the flightline on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma April 4 to learn about firefighting techniques and fire prevention methods during the Month of the Military Child.
Marines with aircraft rescue and firefighting used fire trucks, tools, hoses, bunker gear and Sparky, the mascot of the National Fire Prevention Association, to demonstrate to the students how the firefighters protect their communities. Bunker gear includes the firefighting suits, which are made out of reflective and fire retardant materials. The suits lower the chances of catching fire and decrease the heat felt by the firefighters.
The ARFF Marines offer interactive demonstrations to schools at anytime they would like, said Chief Warrant Officer Brent A. DeBusk, officer-in-charge of ARFF. We work within the schools’ requirements and our requirements to be able to provide the best educational opportunities, not only to our air station but to our partners at the Department of Defense Education Activity and anyone who would like to participate.
The school brought students and teachers to the event, along with some parents.
“There were 92 children, 22 chaperones and seven teachers, which is a little more than I expected,” said Sgt. Shane C. Phelps, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of safety with ARFF. “But [we] do this everyday, so we enjoy having an occasional audience.”
As a part of the demonstration, ARFF set up a number of static and interactive displays, including an AS-P-19A fire truck, bunker gear, fire hoses, an air-bag system, hydraulic tools and two Provost Marshal’s Office displays.
“Each station was designed with the children in mind, said Phelps. “Safety was paramount, especially near the hydraulic tools.”
At one of the stations, Marines showed the children how quickly they could respond to a fire when the signal was given by donning their bunker gear and getting into a fire truck in less than two minutes. They subsequently gave a tour of the same fire truck used during the demonstration.
“The [PMO] military working dog unit and the special reaction team really helped out today,” said Phelps. “The children really enjoyed seeing the working dog demonstration.”
The military working dog unit demonstrated basic commands and scenarios for the children, including various types of confrontations where the aggressor is chased by the dog or subdued by the dog on the spot.
“Everything here was child friendly and informative,” said Kelly R. Palazzo, a first-grade teacher at Bechtel Elementary School. “Sparky and the displays were a hit with the children.”