• Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Luke Olson
  • 114th FW
Firefighters from the Civil Engineer Squadron of the 114th Fighter Wing completed annual training on the arresting cables, sometimes referred to as barriers, that the F-16 Fighting Falcons use for emergency stops on the runway here, June 17, 2014.

"If an aircraft engages a barrier, the fire departments job is to release the aircraft from the barrier and get it ready for the next engagement," said Senior Master Sgt. Thomas Krier, 114th CES base fire chief.

A prompt transition from a barrier engagement to its readiness ensures that aircraft can continue using the runway and that the 114th FW is as efficient and effective as possible.

"You don't do it until you get it right, you do it until you can't get it wrong," said Krier.

For this exercise the fire team is timed. The timer starts as soon as the cable is dropped out of the simulated F-16 arresting hook. In addition to getting the cable ready for the next engagement, the fire crew must inspect the cable for wear and tear.

The elements of the exercise up to the point of the cable being dropped are controlled and deliberate.

In a real world situation, when an aircraft engages the cable the airfield tower declares a ground emergency and sets off a primary alarm. The primary alarm alerts the base firefighters and they have three minutes to be on scene anywhere within the airfield.

Once the fire team arrives on scene, they test the area for airborne contaminants that may be an immediate danger to life or health. The fire team then has to determine whether the aircraft is fire safe. Once it is deemed fire safe, they chalk up the aircraft and release the cable. At this point, the 114th Maintenance Squadron takes control of the aircraft.

These elements are simulated for the exercise so the firefighters can focus on what happens after the cable is released. The fire team has six minutes and 30 seconds from the point the cable is dropped to get it ready for the next possible engagement.

"It's mostly a contingency skill so the exercise has to be done in an extremely expedient manner," said Krier.

"Every time the F-16s take off and land the cable has to be raised," said Master Sgt. Chip Carda, 114th Civil Engineer Squadron power production specialist. "They don't always use it. It's more for an emergency situation."

The annual training offers fire protection teams valuable training for flight line emergency response. This training enhances the firefighter's operability and effectiveness and ensures effectiveness in times of need.

The entire week of annual training included a barrier exercise, a live fire drill, and an aircrew extraction exercise.