NEWS | March 4, 2014

612th Air Base Squadron sees results of partner nation firefighter training

By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Stacy Rogers 612th Air Base Squadron

Firefighters from Joint Task Force-Bravo's 612th Air Base Squadron were able to see firsthand the benefits of firefighter training they have provided throughout Central America as firefighters in Nicaragua are now modeling their firefighter training after the 612th's "CENTAM SMOKE" event.

The 612 ABS Central American Sharing Mutual Operational Knowledge and Experiences (CENTAM SMOKE) exercise provides an opportunity for firefighters from the 612th as well as all seven Central American countries to train together and build partnerships. The exercise provides training in mobile aircraft fires, car and helicopter burns, medical training, structural burns and UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook familiarization training.

Recently, firefighters in Nicaragua have driven home how important this training is for Central American countries. These firefighters have taken the lessons learned at CENTAM SMOKE and created their own training course in order to increase the knowledge of their own firefighters. The course, called the "Manaugua-Humo," has graduated 60 firefighters to date.

Herbeth Gaekel, Soto Cano Air Base Fire Inspector, traveled to Nicaragua to assist in the development of the course and to serve as an instructor. Gaekel supplied the Nicaraguans with the International Fire Service Training Association Manual in both English and Spanish.

"The Nicaraguan firefighters have proven just how valuable CENTAM SMOKE is to the partner nations of Joint Task Force-Bravo," said Gaekel. "Training events like
CENTAM SMOKE are essential. For some of these countries, it is their only chance to receive this type of specialty training."

For the firefighters at the 612 ABS, training like this can many times be considered just "another day at the office." But for firefighters throughout Central America, participating in this type of training event may very well provide the knowledge needed to one day save a life.