ARFF Marines battle the blaze

Marines Battle Blaze

Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Marines aboard Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., battle a blaze during a live-fire training exercise, Jan. 17. The Marines took turns rotating through each role of the fire fighter, gaining valuable experience and confidence. Photo by Cpl Cameron Payne.

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. - It's the early morning at the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting squadron when the call goes out. Intercom screaming, ear-piercing sirens blaring, Marines rush to get into place for an emergency they trained and prepared for since entering their military occupational specialty.

As the sirens wailed, the Marines donned the tools of their trade including flame retardant suits, oxygen masks, and a safety system that creates a sound when the firefighter does not move in 30 seconds, in case a Marine goes down due to injury. Gear preemptively packed and trucks fueled and ready to go, the Marines head to the flightline to combat the aircraft emergency, said LCpl Cody Jefferys, ARFF Marine.

The training was conducted in order to test the Marines on their rapid response procedures, which include the donning of their gear quickly as well as their ability to keep their composure in the face of an aircraft emergency.

The simulated aircraft fire was controlled by two ARFF Marines, controlling the intensity of the propane-fueled flames from a distance, communicating with the staff noncommissioned officers overseeing the training, allowing for the Marines to experience the flow and movement of an unpredictable fire.

One virtue that helps the Marines maintain their composure around the unpredictable dangers of fire is trust in their fellow firefighters.

"Trust is very important in this job," said LCpl Jonathan Reeves, ARFF Marine. "You have to trust the man next you to be able to do his job and have your back no matter what the situation."

As the Marines fought to extinguish the fire, the trainers critiqued the Marines on their performance, could have done better.

"Every training exercise serves as a mirror to show you what you are proficient at and what you could improve upon, said Reeves. "We train like we fight, and that's exactly what we're doing."

The value of the training is measured in response-time – how long it takes the Marines to arrive at the emergency with the right gear to battle the blaze.

"We have trained to the point that we are able to respond to an emergency fully prepared in five minutes," said Reeves. is the official website of the United States Marine Corps and is maintained by the Marine Corps' Division of Public Affairs.