NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Sailors attended the Fire Fighting Team Evaluation Course at Farrier Firefighting School in Norfolk June 15.
Ike's Duty Section Inport Emergency Teams, Repair Lockers and Damage Control Training Team each sent 12 members to attend this training, which is designed to give Sailors a more realistic approach to fighting fires, and to evaluate the team's ability to combat fires aboard the ship.
"It lets teams know what they've got to do to work together and be able to put out main space or compartment fires," said Machinist's Mate 1st Class (SW) Jeff Wunsch, field safety instructor for Farrier Firefighting School. "It also lets them know how they are going to react during a live fire."
Wunsch said that fighting fires as a team is about pulling your resources together. He says that there is no way one person can fight a fire all by himself.
"You can't move a charged hose down three decks by yourself," said Wunsch.
The school has a standard grading system to let teams know how they perform. Each team will receive a score of satisfactory, marginally satisfactory or unsatisfactory. The areas covered during the evaluation process are communication, team effort, participation, direction, safety, firefighting ability, plotting and combating the fire.
A typical day at the team evaluation course starts with a brief introduction covering course safety and other important items. Then the Sailors' medical screening sheets are reviewed. Medical screenings are required for every Sailor as a safety precaution. Sailors are then taken on a walk-through of the course, where they are briefed on additional safety precautions, basic firefighting techniques and recommendations for combating the fire. After a short break, Sailors go through a brief "wet-work exercise" to make sure they know how to properly handle the hose.
Once the wet work is completed, the teams run through the actual scenario and are graded on their attempt.
The scenario can last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the day's heat index and temperature, and features all of the aspects of actual class Alpha, Bravo and Charlie fires, including the extreme heat.
"This training is definitely worthwhile," said Wunsch. "It tells each individual what they can expect when you fight with real smoke and fire. It can tell you what kind of firefighter you really are," he added.
Unlike the old days of fighting fires controlled by fossil fuel, the entire scenario is set in realistic looking spaces resembling the ship, and the fires are electronically controlled for added safety. If there is a training timeout for any reason, the fires can all be shut off instantly.
With all the safety precautions and the real firefighting experience, Sailors are able to get the best and most realistic training possible.
"USS Forrestal (CVA 59) and USS Cole (DDG 67) are perfect examples of why we have these training schools," said Master Chief Machinist's Mate (SW/AW) James Cote, Farrier Firefighting School's leading chief petty officer. "Without this type of training, the Sailors of those two ships wouldn't have been able to do what they did to save their ship. The COs [commanding officers] of those ships said firefighting school is what got them through that."
Not only is it mandated by Navy instruction to attend advanced firefighting training, but Ike's commanding officer, chief engineer, damage control assistant and fire marshal all support Ike's Sailors going to these schools.
"Ike has been doing very well for a ship that has been in the yards," said Damage Controlman 1st Class (SW/AW) John Hosey, assistant gas free engineer, and one of Ike's firefighting training coordinators. "This is the first time a lot of Sailors have seen this type of training."
Ike is steadily getting its crew back to being combat ready, and training to fight fires is a huge step in that direction.
"This is one of the best firefighting aids," said Hosey. "It will pay off if a real incident ever occurs."
For related news, visit the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn69.