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More than chem gear
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Senior Airman Michael Waffle and Airman 1st Class Christopher Diaz, firefighters in the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron, demonstrate how to wear the additional gear required for firefighters to respond in a chemical environment at Yokota Air Base, Japan, Sept. 13, 2011. Yokota recently participated in an operational readiness exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Stacy Moless)
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The Many Roles of Yokota's Firefighters

Posted 9/18/2011   Updated 9/18/2011 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Katrina R. Menchaca
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/18/2011 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- Yes firefighters fight fires, but for the 374th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department the job involves more than its name implies.

This becomes especially true during emergency response and contingency situations, as simulated during Yokota's current operational readiness exercise.

The Yokota Fire Department provides a wide range of services related to emergency response-- everything from on-scene incident command and control to structural fire containment and confined space rescue.

"Basically, we help the wing recover from any emergency it has and work to get operations back to normal," said Master Sgt. Jon Ammon, 374th Civil Engineer Squadron fire department assistant chief of operations.

Moreover, during contingency operations, the fire department continues to serve the base's needs.

"We can provide fire protection support to inbound and outbound aircraft, directly supporting the fight, or provide fire prevention briefings to inbound support personnel," he said.

With such varied and important jobs, the fire department's duty day never ends.

"Having such a large mission means that we never stop working," said Sergeant Ammon.

"We provide 24-hour support to the entire wing on and off the runway," a fact that doesn't change when conditions become dangerous or intense, he said.

During the humid summers here in Japan, this becomes especially difficult.

"One thing that a lot of Airmen don't know about us is the fact that we wear our chem. suits underneath our fire gear," said Sergeant Ammon. "So when you think you're hot, believe me: you're not."

Even so, when asked how he felt about his duties, Sergeant Ammon replied, "I would not want another job."

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