This week has been fire training at Duxford airport. Actually more like fireman training than fire training.
The morning of the first day was the classroom part of the course. The focus was on dynamic risk assessment and identifying situations that should not be approached. The fabulous fire training team at Duxford had prepared a session specifically on the Dash 7 and Twin Otters which identified all the danger points on these specific aircraft. Things like location of hydraulic hoses, tyres and composite materials which are dangerous in a fire. We learned the conditions under which these become dangerous and how to position yourself to avoid them.
Site selection for fire fighting was the next topic. The position of the fire appliance should ideally be upwind, uphill from any liquid fuel sources and in view of the flight crew in the cockpit so that communications with the pilot are established. All three will not always be possible. Communication with the pilot being the most important of the three. Propellers and engines could be started so the pilot needs to be are aware of the location of any actions by the fire team and they need a way to communicate there intentions to the fire team.
After being kitted out with our fire fighting gear we piled into the fire truck for a ride to lunch. After lunch we learned how to use the various hoses and branches (nozzles). This was surprisingly heavy and exhausting work. I lost track of how many times we rolled, unrolled and extended the various hoses.
The second day started with Breathing Apertures (BA) training with the very likeable Neil. BA is very important piece of the fire-fighters kit, it means you can breath clean cool air. We learned how to dress in buddy pairs, checking each other at each step. The control board managed by a person in a yellow and black chequered vest is always used with BA to keep a record of times and pressures. Once we were dresses we were paired up for a search and recovery exercise. With our face masks blacked out completely. We learned to scan ahead with sweeps of our hands and feet before moving forward a step to systematically search a blackened room.
After lunch we fire-trucked over to the fire training ground on the far side of the runway. Here we practised and re-practised our BA procedures and control board procedures. Then we entered a training container where Alan lit a small wood fire. The container was fitted with temperature gauges at various heights to we could watch the hot level descending from the roof downwards.
The third day was practical undercarriage fire-fighting practice on the Duxford simulation rigs. By this time we were all getting good at getting into our BA kit and working in our buddy teams to support the hose.
At the end of this session we learnt how to lay a protective layer of foam onto a site after a fire has been extinguished.
The afternoon was a full blow accident simulation with us all playing our roles. The training was fabulously hands-on and practical with a constant focus on safety and dynamic risk assessment.