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Team V firefighters complete search and rescue training

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Manny Villegas, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, enters through a wall after a forceable entry exercise March 5 in East Housing here.  Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Manny Villegas, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, enters through a wall after a forceable entry exercise March 5 in East Housing here. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. CiJi Brown, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, uses a saw to cut a sqaure on the roof of a condemned home during a vertical ventilation exercise March 5 in East Housing here. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations.  (U.S.Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. CiJi Brown, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, uses a saw to cut a square on the roof of a condemned home during a vertical ventilation exercise March 5 in East Housing here. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S.Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Senior Airman Lamont Brown, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, crawls in a simulated burning house during an exercise March 5 in East Housing, here. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Senior Airman Lamont Brown, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, crawls in a simulated burning house during an exercise March 5 in East Housing, here. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.--  Manny Villegas, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, assists Staff Sgt. Lamont Brown, a fellow 30th CES firefighter, during a forceable entry exercise March 5 in East Housing.  Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Manny Villegas, a 30th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, assists Staff Sgt. Lamont Brown, a fellow 30th CES firefighter, during a forceable entry exercise March 5 in East Housing. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. Jeb Fach prepares to approach a door during a search and rescue exercise March 5 in East Housing here.  Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- Staff Sgt. Jeb Fach prepares to approach a door during a search and rescue exercise March 5 in East Housing here. Vandenberg's firefighters went through the training to prepare for possible future rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Antoinette Lyons)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Firefighters from the 30th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department took part in a training exercise March 5 in East Housing here.

Nearly 40 firefighters from Vandenberg's fire stations were involved in the training, which focused primarily on fire search and rescue, opening roofs for ventilation, forcible entry and rapid intervention.

The homes in East Housing are currently slated for demolition and provide the firefighters the most realistic environment to train in. The firefighters rotated in to the training as teams based on the station they are assigned.

"I want my firefighters to gain the most practical and realistic training as possible," said Mark Farias, the Vandenberg fire chief. "This is about as close as it gets. This training is vital to Vandenberg firefighters and our ultimate competitive advantage is teamwork."

Team V firefighters train every day and often times invite their community counterparts to training exercises, which are evaluated by subject matter experts and certified instructors. The firefighters put in an estimated 40,000 hours per year training in a variety of training facilities, such as a four-story structure trainer, a live aircraft trainer, and other various training props that ignite.

Most firefighters had high expectations of the training involved. The intense, realistic training requires a great amount of planning, along with physical stamina.

"I hope to gain better ideas for rapid intervention crew operations out of today's exercise," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Duncan, a 30th CES firefighter. "Providing emergency services and fighting fires requires us to be in good shape ... it's physically demanding."

The rapid intervention crew is a separate rescue team that goes in after a fallen firefighter during a rescue to allow the original team to continue fighting the fire or rescuing an individual.

While training is extremely important for the firefighters to stay proficient, the scenarios can be very dangerous. Training in condemned housing and breaking through walls with exposed wires and broken wood, along with the heat and smoke conditions firefighters typically deal with, is nearly as dangerous as running into a real emergency situation.

"The only two statistics that matter to me is that everyone comes home safe and sound after every operation, whether it's an emergency or a training exercise," Chief Farias said. "Safety is our number one priority in these scenarios."