Firefighters gain critical skills in Arizona

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Yuki Klein
  • 142nd Wing/Public Affairs

Firefighters assigned to the Oregon Air National Guard’s 142nd Wing, Portland Air National Guard Base (PANG), trained with firefighters from Luke Air Force Base, Arizona to accomplish their annual training from August 5 to August 19, 2022.

During their two weeks of training, the team trained on live fires, F-35 and F-16 egress procedures, fire suppressant techniques, medical training, as well as combat arms training and qualification.

Training away from home base provides an opportunity for Airmen to broaden their skillsets by taking advantage of resources that are not readily available at PANG. Additionally, it enables joint-training with the host unit, in this case, firefighters from Luke Air Force Base’s 56th Fighter Wing.

During their time in Arizona, the team was able to cross several items off their annual training checklist. Tech. Sgt. Dylan Congrove, a fire fighter for the 142nd Wing, and one of the senior ranking members of the team, stressed the importance and impact of training this way and getting to see the big Air Force picture.

“The Air Force is a global entity right?...and so it's nice to be able to get out there and see all of it, especially for some of our newer folks, to realize that the Air Force and the Air National Guard, is much bigger than just PANG,” said Congrove.

This is not the first time the team has traveled for annual training. Over the past few years, PANG’s firefighters have trained at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and Marine Corps Base, Hawaii.

Each of these training endeavors has provided unique challenges and learning scenarios as well as opportunities for multi-unit collaboration and relationship building.

For Senior Airman Cole Siemon, a firefighter with the 142nd Wing, this training is a first. Fighting fires in the Arizona heat has been a unique and physically demanding experience for the young Airman.

“Its a different type of heat and being in all of our gear, or in the trucks, or just even outside in the direct sunlight, it's super hot,” said Siemon. “As a firefighter, it really limits you physically. It's an adjustment for sure, but that's what we're here to do.”

Congrove says that working with the Luke AFB firefighters and learning new skills has been crucial for the team.

“It is extremely valuable to get out here and do this kind of training,” said Congrove. “I think it helps prevent the tunnel vision of just focusing on one mission, one type of airframe, and…realizing the bigger picture and what's out there, which is important when we deploy.”