ANG firefighters get fired up about HAZMAT course

HAZMAT Training Course

U.S. Air Force firefighters participated in a hazardous material exercise at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., March 15, 2018. Firefiighters assigned to units across the country spent the two-week HAZMAT training performing hands-on tasks, such as patching leaks in containers and hooking up water hoses to equipment, which culminated in the final exercise to test what they had learned. (U.S. Air National Guard by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

HAZMAT Training Course

U.S. Air Force firefighters participated in a hazardous material exercise at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., March 15, 2018. Firefiighters assigned to units across the country spent the two-week HAZMAT training performing hands-on tasks, such as patching leaks in containers and hooking up water hoses to equipment, which culminated in the final exercise to test what they had learned. (U.S. Air National Guard by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

HAZMAT Training Course

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dashawn Gilford, a firefighter assigned to the South Carolina Air National Guard’s 169th Civil Engineer Squadron, puts gear on during a hazardous material exercise at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., March 15, 2018. Firefiighters assigned to units across the country spent the two-week HAZMAT training performing hands-on tasks, such as patching leaks in containers and hooking up water hoses to equipment, which culminated in the final exercise to test what they had learned. (U.S. Air National Guard by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

HAZMAT Training Course

U.S. Air Force firefighters conduct a search in a hazardous material exercise at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., March 15, 2018. Firefiighters assigned to units across the country spent the two-week HAZMAT training performing hands-on tasks, such as patching leaks in containers and hooking up water hoses to equipment, which culminated in the final exercise to test what they had learned. (U.S. Air National Guard by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

HAZMAT Training Course

U.S. Air Force firefighters processed through a decontamination area during a hazardous material exercise at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., March 15, 2018. Firefiighters assigned to units across the country spent the two-week HAZMAT training performing hands-on tasks, such as patching leaks in containers and hooking up water hoses to equipment, which culminated in the final exercise to test what they had learned. (U.S. Air National Guard by Senior Airman Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

The U.S. Air National Guard’s 169th Fighter Wing hosted 27 firefighters, assigned to units from all over the country, as part of a mandatory hazardous material technician training course here, March 15.

“Hazardous material incidents are becoming a growing issue with all the various products that are being made,” said Scott Hebert, an instructor supervisor assigned to the mobile travel team from the Department of Defense’s Lewis F. Garland Fire Academy. “There is a lot of product out there that is hazardous, such as chlorine and ammonia. At any time you could have a truck accident and be faced with a very serious issue.”  

The firefighters spent the two-week training performing hands-on tasks, such as patching leaks in containers and hooking up water hoses to equipment, which culminated in a final exercise to test what they had learned.

“For a lot of bases, including my own, we are the hazardous response for the town, not just the base,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Shane Lawson, a firefighter assigned to the 4th Civil Engineer Squadron at Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. “Going through the scenarios gives us a better understanding of what steps to take if it were to happen in real life. Our communities are counting on us.”

The training was held at McEntire JNGB for the first time and was conducted by two instructors assigned to the mobile travel team from the Department of Defense’s Lewis F. Garland Fire Academy.

The training was originally scheduled to take place in Puerto Rico. However due to extensive damage received from Hurricane Maria late last year, the National Guard Bureau asked McEntire JNGB to be the alternate training location.

“McEntire [JNGB] took it wholeheartedly, and the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron have been outstanding hosts,” said Hebert.

Richland County or the City of Columbia can call our fire station and we can assist them in an emergency situation, said Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Turner, the fire chief assigned to the 169th Civil Engineer Squadron. Having the training here improved our capabilities for emergency response and increases services we can provide to our surrounding communities.