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Joint-training brings the heat on fire readiness

By Airman 1st Class Benjamin Raughton 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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A chill lingers in the air on a beautiful March morning. Suddenly, the morning calm is consumed by searing heat.

A B-52H Stratofortress erupts into flames. As if coming from the mouth of a beast, tongues of fire lick at the sides of the aircraft, threatening to consume it whole.

Courtesy of the United States Air Force and the Shreveport Fire Department, two fire trucks circle the aircraft like two wolves circling their dying prey. Their hoses on full-blast.

Under the burning left wing, six men are protected only by heavy silver and yellow uniforms equipped with gas masks and oxygen tanks. The weight doesn't slow them down because they move with a sense of urgency.

Armed with fire hoses, they waste no time drowning the blaze in a torrent of water. The fire is doused, but the danger isn't over. The other side of the aircraft explodes into flames.

Contrary to instinct, no one runs from this blaze. No one shies away from the danger. Instead, they run toward the flames that would incinerate anyone less prepared.

Like soldiers marching on the enemy, the firefighters advance on the angry flames engulfed nearly 50 feet of aircraft.

Soon the flames and burned wreckage retreat into a white mist courtesy of the Shreveport Fire Department.

Upon closer inspection, the B-52 that burned is actually a training device used in a joint-training exercise between the SFD and USAF.

David Ebarb, Chief of Aircraft, Rescue and Fire Fighting for the Shreveport Fire Department explains the situation.

"This is our annual live burn training," he said. "We do propane burns to simulate a real aircraft fire. It also builds cooperation between us and Barksdale. We get to know each other because we're on a mutual aid agreement."

A mutual aid agreement helps to compliment both SFD and Barksdale Air Force Base, so that if one needs an extra hand during a situation both agencies work together to get the job done, he said.

Master Sgt. Benny Baladez, Deputy Fire Chief of the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron here, explains another goal of the joint-training exercise.

"We're in a combined effort to certify Shreveport firefighters on aircraft fire fighting," he said. "It fulfills an annual requirement and builds community ties between the departments."

Baladez added, by certifying the SFD on Barksdale, the local community can save money and build a working relationship with us and the base.

With joint-training exercises like this one, the Barksdale warfighter is better equipped to safely complete the mission of building unmatched expeditionary Airmen and devastating B-52 capability.