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    Firefighters in training: Japanese cadets work to become firefighters for US Military bases / 新人基地消防士が在沖米軍合同消防訓練を受ける

    MCIPAC Fire and Emergency Services trains new cadets

    Photo By Sgt. Ryan Pulliam | Takeshi Tsuhako, center, the battalion chief instructor for the training division,...... read more read more



    Story by Yoshie Makiyama 

    Marine Corps Installations Pacific

    Nine Japanese employees working at U.S. military fire stations across Okinawa trained to become firefighters during a five-week qualification course held at the DoD Fire Academy on Camp Hansen, July 12, 2021.

    The training consisted of both practical, in classroom lessons, and hands-on training to include a live-fire training event where the students had to work together to extinguish a controlled fire.

    “The courses have been challenging for all of the candidates. In just five weeks, the trainees have completed academic and practical requirements in lessons of Emergency Medical response, Hazardous Material Awareness, HazMat Operations, and Firefighter I,” said Jerry R. Bowling, assistant fire chief of Marine Corps Installations Pacific Fire and Emergency Services-Japan (MCIPAC FESJ).

    All trainees are future firefighters for the U.S. Marine Corps, Army, and Navy in Okinawa; of the nine, seven were newly recruited Japanese employees of the Marine Corps, and two were working in Army or Navy firefighting facilities. While waiting to take the qualification course, the trainees worked at the stations in a support function.

    Takeshi Tsuhako, the master labor contractors battalion chief of training division, who coordinated the training, explained that MCIPAC FESJ conducts the academy every time there are newly hired firefighters. Even with just one new employee, they will conduct the training. In such a case, the new candidate goes to each training site for class. In the five-week course, candidates have only Sunday off.

    “We couldn’t attend the training because our organization is small compared to the Marine Corps (in Okinawa). I waited for two years to attend this academy,” said Hirokazu Irei, a candidate from U.S. Army Garrison Okinawa, Torii Station. “The facilities and educational environment are different.”

    After having taken four weeks of training, Irai learned that the command structure of MCIPAC FESJ is well organized and clear, and the instructors are knowledgeable and well-trained.

    Although Irai has been with the Army fire and emergency unit for two years, he has never participated in an actual emergency fire response. “People can be book smart but being in an actual live fire for the first time, you can lose yourself because you are in a confined space with real fire losing visibility and high temperature.” He said he was lucky because he did not panic during the training.

    Junya Miyagi, MLC assistant fire chief of operations and the instructor for the live-fire training, stated that all the trainees are people who made it through the application review, written exams and ability tests. They are not only high in physical condition but also in motivation as well.

    Miyagi, a 26-year-firefighting veteran, likes the continuous improvement. “Disasters don't wait. If we cannot keep up with changes in condition and keep improving, we injure ourselves.”

    Takahiro Ganaha, the oldest candidate of all nine, worked for Urasoe City Fire Department for 14 years but dreamed of working at the Marine Corps fire department after he participated in the joint rescue training with Marines seven years ago. He confirmed that his passion toward working in a different environment was not just a passing thought when he went to Belgium as part of an Okinawan joint firefighting team to participate in a rope rescue competition.

    “I was not confident then, but it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. In Okinawa, you can get a chance to work in such a different environment even if you are still in Japan,” Ganaha said. “A lot of Japanese firefighting and rescue techniques are from the U.S. but I want to also share some of my knowledge I gained while working as a Japanese firefighter and rescuer with my co-workers here. I want to be a bridge between Japanese firefighters and U.S.”

    Accomplishing five weeks of training, all nine candidates graduated on July 17, 2021 and went off to the U.S. military fire departments across Okinawa they were assigned to.








     伊礼さんは、陸軍の消防隊に2年間所属していたが、実際の消火活動に従事した体験はまだない。「人は知識が豊富でも、初めて実戦に出ると、本物の炎で視界は遮られ、高温で狭い空間にいるという状況下で、自分を見失ってしまうことがある」 と言い、実火訓練中にパニックにならなかったのは幸運だったと振り返った。








    Date Taken: 01.14.2022
    Date Posted: 05.23.2022 20:17
    Story ID: 421259
    Location: OKINAWA, JP

    Web Views: 376
    Downloads: 0