BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
When a B-52 Stratofortress soars overhead, visions of American air power and global strike lethality scurry into the mind, but rarely is there any thought of what happens if disaster struck and a B-52 suddenly became engulfed in flames. Fortunately, the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department in conjunction with the Shreveport Fire Department practice joint live fire training to prepare for these kinds of emergencies.
“We are beyond fortunate that we have Barksdale as a cooperative training partner,” said Chief David L. Ebarb, aircraft rescue and firefighting chief for Shreveport Fire Department. “Barksdale and all of the fire department staff are so gracious for letting us come out here and train.”
This year, the 2nd CES Fire Department with Shreveport Fire Department conducted a live aircraft fire training using a simulated aircraft that was specifically designed to be set ablaze on March 21, 2019, at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. Multiple underground gas lines were used to feed into the simulation aircraft to allow the flames to rapidly consume the aircraft and enable the flames to be quickly extinguished in the case of an emergency.
“The great thing about this is although the flames are real and the evolution is real, the situation is controlled,” said Ebarb “You have safety, you have a red line, you have a chief in the tower to turn off the gas should there be a problem, so it’s kind of controlled chaos.”
Although, this particular scenario involved an aircraft accident, the training site can be adjusted to simulate different emergency scenarios with multiple fires.
“We have multiple fires that we can ignite to simulate a number one engine fire, a number two engine fire, debris, three-dimensional fires and ground fires that simulate burning fuel, and that’s just for the exterior of the aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Paul J. Morris, assistant chief of training for the 2nd CES Fire Department. “Not saying that in any crash, all of these fires are going to happen at one time, but when something does happen, they’re not thrown through any loops.”
Additionally, the 2nd CES Fire Department and Shreveport Fire Department use the simulated aircraft as an opportunity to become proficient in multiple firefighting techniques.
“This lets us work on our nozzle practices, hose line advancing, firefighting techniques and it simulates using foam which is what we would use in the real world,” said Ebarb. “It’s just a phenomenal training aid that Barksdale lets us use.”
For Shreveport Fire Department, not only does this training provide unique learning opportunities but it also allows them to uphold their requirements for the Federal Aviation Administration.
“In our mutual aid agreement with Shreveport Fire Department, we conduct annual training so every March they can come out here and do the aircraft live fire training to fulfil their FAA training requirement,” said Morris.
This kind of training allows the 2nd CES Fire Department and the Shreveport Fire Department to hone their skills and learn how to better work together so they can quickly respond in need of an emergency.
“We always want to thank the members of the fire protection squadron, the leadership of Barksdale that allow us to come out and do this,” said Ebarb “It’s a real team effort to get us out here, and we appreciate it.”
So the next time a Barksdale B-52 flies overhead, there’s no need to worry about what will happen in the event of an accident, because the coalition of the 2nd CES Fire Department and the Shreveport Fire Department have got it covered.