NEWS | Feb. 20, 2009

Honduran airmen train with JTF-B firefighters

By Tech. Sgt. Rebecca Danét Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs office

Eleven airmen from the Honduran Air Force conducted training here Feb. 16 - 19 with the Joint Task Force-Bravo Fire Department in a subject matter expert exchange focused on wildland fires, land navigation and structural fires. 

Such exchanges are usually conducted with firefighters from Comayagua, said Mr. Herberth Gaekel , JTF-B chief of fire prevention, but included the Honduran Airmen this week because, as security police, they're often among the first-responders to incidents here. 

"It's always beneficial to conduct this type of training," Mr. Gaekel said. "As long as someone learns how to save a life, save their own life, it's a good thing." Mr. Gaekel led the week's training. He's also a foreign service national with more than 30 years of experience as a firefighter in Honduras, eight of them with JTF-B. 

The land navigation and structural training were the best parts of the course, said Honduran Airman José Marroquin. 

During land navigation, the Airmen learned how to read a map, use a compass, plot points on a map, measure distances and traverse obstacles in their paths. 

U.S. Army Sgt 1st Class Raul Lopez, JTF-B rigger, assisted in teaching the class. Of the 11 students, only two had ever been introduced to the material before. 

"As service members, we can all be out there at any time without MapQuest or a GPS," Sergeant Lopez said. "It's a good thing to be able to move around using just a topographical map." 

Structural fire training took place at the JTF-B burn house, a two story cement and steel building shell, designed to give practical experience in fighting structural fires. 

JTF-B Fire Chief Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Pete Sorensen said conducting training together is important to JTF-Bravo and this week's training proved a big success. 

"It gives our skills a little bit of practice," he said. "It also helps us to expand our common knowledge when we're responding to incidents together."