McEntire Firefighters prepare for upcoming ORI
By Master Sgt. Pelham Myers Jr., 169th Fighter Wing
/ Published February 20, 2013
MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, South Carolina -- As McEntire's firefighters prepare for November's Operational Readiness Inspection, training is the main point of emphasis.
Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Turner, base fire chief, is responsible for ensuring all McEntire firefighters are prepared to respond to various emergencies here. He also ensures they are properly trained to accomplish the associated tasks.
"We are certainly in the training mode, and I realize that the way to become successful in the ORI is simply to go out there and train," he said. "I am fully confident that we can put our firefighters up against any firefighter unit in the Guard."
The level of training McEntire firefighters receive makes the chief confidence they will be fully prepared for the ORI. His confidence is encouraged by the fact most of his Guard members also are full-time firefighters and are very familiar with what the job encompasses.
Like all units on base, the fire department has a checklist of what it is expected to accomplish. "The checklist is our annual assessment, which the inspectors will want to review during the ORI, but I still maintain that my primary concern is taking care of our people," Turner said.
"The inspectors validate that we are running a good department," he said. "I want them to see that, no matter the challenge, that's exactly what we're doing."
Turner says the ORI will be physically challenging and will require everyone to come together to meet those challenges.
The firefighters take part in physical fitness assessments twice a year to evaluate their physical conditioning. They also rely on historical information for an edge. The ACC-IG website provides an overview of other units' inspections, which allows them to be aware of what the inspectors are looking for. Those reviews help the firefighters prepare for timed events aircrew extractions and the barrier rewind.
During aircrew extraction, firefighters must pull a pilot out of the aircraft in less than a minute and rewind the barrier cables on the runway in less than seven minutes. They also are expected to respond to structural emergencies and rescues.
"The final message for the firefighters and to the rest of the base populace is to just do what you have been doing all along," said Turner. "Don't second guess yourselves, and don't choke. Just rely on the training, and, if something goes wrong, deal with it and press on.
"My job is to take care of my people, and to prepare them for what the inspectors might throw at us. The way I do that is simply to train!"
The ORI is scheduled for Nov. 5-11.