Oregon Air Guard firefighters, partners ‘Burn-to-Learn’

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Jefferson Thompson,
  • 173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Kingsley Field firefighters in the Oregon Air National Guard partnered with local community organizations Dec. 8 to hone their response to structure fires.

Klamath Falls Fire District One invited the Kingsley Field firefighters to participate in a “Burn-to-Learn” event held on a condemned structure on the south side of town.

The structure, a home in disrepair, hadn’t outlived its usefulness though it was no longer fit for habitation. The structure served as a training ground for firefighters from both districts and Klamath Community College Fire Science students kitted out in full personal protective gear.

The training began as firefighters set small blazes in different rooms in the house and observed how the fire behaved. They squelched these initial fires to avoid burning the entire structure.

“Practicing skills in a live-fire environment is critical to being prepared to fight a fire at Kingsley,” said Howard Owens, the Kingsley Field Fire Chief. “This also builds the partnership with the primary agency that will support Kingsley during an emergency. We are staffed to mitigate small incidents. For a large-scale event, we would need assistance through mutual aid.”

And so this process bears directly on a real-world scenario where firefighters from District One and the base would work shoulder-to-shoulder as a team.

The final step in the “Burn-to-Learn” process was to start fires throughout the structure and observe the ensuing inferno while protecting the local area, including trees and pastureland.

Owens said those participating in the training were able to observe how building construction influences fire spread, practice radio communication with the team and decide the most effective nozzle choice for the most efficient suppression.

In addition to furthering the partnership with the local fire district, five firefighters also met an Air Force requirement for live-fire training in a local venue, rather than traveling five hours to Travis Air Force base in California.