Local college club visits aircraft firefighters

24 Oct 2012 | Lance Cpl. Christopher Johns

Palomar College Fire Club members received a firsthand view of life as an Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting Marine aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., Oct. 27.

Five club members came aboard the air station to gain a broader understanding of the firefighting career field with ARFF Marines.

“We displayed how our fire house is set up and some of our day-to-day operations,” said Staff Sgt. James Harris, Jr., the fire house captain and a Lake City, Fla., native. “We showed some of our firefighting techniques when it comes to certain aircraft, like the [F/A-18 Hornet and the MV-22B Osprey,] to broaden their understanding of the fire service in general.”

More than 20 Marines spent the afternoon answering questions concerning fire safety along the air station’s flight line.

“We understand structural and [civilian] firefighting,” said Chris Destefano, the fire club chief and a Vista, Calif., native. “This is a completely different aspect of [the job]. The knowledge they have to maintain is incredible. [This] club is designed to show what exactly firefighters do aside from calls and looking cool at the station.”

There is extra training, volunteer work and hard work behind being an aircraft firefighter. They must memorize different procedures for different aircraft and endure the heat and long hours in the sun at “hot spots”. This tour puts this all into perspective, explained Destefano.

These Marines seem to know what they are doing, explained Destefano. They know their jobs, they do it well and he feels any potential firefighter would learn a great deal from an experience like this.