News: Fire brigade trains to fight incipient fires on Camp Nathan Smith
Story by Sgt. Ruth Pagan
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – Soldiers with 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, completed a week-long training course on incipient firefighting and safety at Camp Nathan Smith, Feb. 3.
“We’ve put together a comprehensive course on firefighting and safety,” said Charles Olson, a civilian fire inspector and instructor brought in to teach the fire brigade. “So, even if the guys didn’t have any previous fire training or experience, by the end they will be able to fight insipient fires.”
An incipient fire is one in its beginning stage that can be controlled with a portable fire extinguisher or small hose system.
“In case there’s a fire [the fire brigade] will respond with the equipment they’ve been trained on,” Olson said. “They will implement defensive fire fighting procedures and tactics.”
“If it’s past the incipient phase, we’ll cordon off the area and prevent the fire from spreading by putting up a water curtain using the fire truck,” said Spc. Koran Payton, a supply specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
The Camp Nathan Smith fire brigade has two types of vehicles it can employ in case of a fire. The first is the compressed air foam system that is mounted on the back of a utility vehicle. The compressed air foam system is a 60 gallon tank containing compressed foam and water designed to suppress fire.
The second vehicle is a big sand-colored fire truck, which was brought in from Iraq by the request of Ed Keeser, the 2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division safety officer.
“This is the first response team for CNS, but they have limited capabilities and they have been taught those limitations,” said Lloyd Callaway, a civilian fire inspector and instructor. “There are things they have to consider if it’s incipient—the ambient temperature and accumulation of smoke, and then they have to decide if they can take evasive action or not.”
“I learned what type of fires we can fight,” Payton said. “I didn’t know there were different classifications of things that would put out a fire. I didn’t know that water isn’t always the solution to kill every fire.”
Throughout the training the fire brigade was exposed to real world scenarios and received hands-on training by extinguishing fires.
“By putting out real fires we learned how to react to fire, how to use the CAFS, how to use the foam and how it reacts to the fire,” said Spc. Baraa Abbas, a water purification specialist with Company A, 204th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd BCT, 4th Infantry Division.
To culminate the training, the instructors issued a pop quiz. The instructors arranged wooden pallets in a pyramid shape about eight feet high and then set it on fire and waited. Within minutes, the fire announcement came on the loud speaker alerting the fire brigade, who promptly reacted and extinguished the fire.
“The final scenario encompassed everything they’ve learned to this point,” Callaway said. “It’s not a pass or fail but they do have to meet minimum standards—that they’re safe, that they communicate between each other, that they are operating the equipment correctly and that they extinguish the fire.”
“You really have to assess your situation, you just can’t rush into a fire because there could be heavy smoke, bullets or grenades that could be very dangerous,” said Staff Sgt. Lester Canidy, a non-commissioned officer in charge of one the fire brigade teams on Camp Nathan Smith with 385th Military Police Battalion. “It is all about safety first.”
Callaway said, “We have some good guys in this class who are motivated and eager and they are going to be the 911 call for CNS.”