Ohio firefighters get it right at Alpena CRTC

  • Published
  • By Tech Sgt. Daniel Heaton
  • 127th Wing
ALPENA, Mich. - Slow down, talk about it and do it right.

That was the focus for about two dozen Ohio Air National Guard firefighters during a weeklong training exercise at an air base in northern Michigan.

"Being in Alpena gives us time, that's the biggest thing," said Master Sgt. Joshua Wendling, a firefighter with the 179th Airlift Wing, as he waited his turn in a rappelling drill at the fire training center at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center.

"On drill weekends, we have so many demands on our time," Wendling said. "This week gives us time to slow it down, really talk things through so that everyone understands what's going on, especially some of our younger guys, and then to actually perform the exercise."

The Ohio Airmen, who are based in Mansfield, spent the week in Alpena practicing fighting aircraft fires, structure fires and a wide variety of rescue scenarios. Of particular benefit, said Senior Master Sgt. Roger Burton, the base fire chief at Mansfield, is the opportunity to use the aircraft fire simulator at Alpena.

"We don't have this type of equipment at home station, so we can come here and accomplish that, but also roll in all this other training," Burton said.

About 20 of the Mansfield firefighters returned to Ohio in March after a six-month deployment in Southwest Asia.

"We are also able to do some team building up here," Burton said. "A number of the Airmen have been deployed. We have some newer, younger people coming into the unit. So, this gives us a chance to get together and build up those bonds that you need when you work together as closely as we do."

Military and civilian fire crews from around the Midwest train frequently at Alpena. The base serves as a training center for a wide range of operations, from Honor Guard training to Operation Northern Strike, a joint live-fire exercise that brought Air Force, Army and Navy aircraft from a dozen states to Alpena and the nearby Army Nation Guard-operated Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center. The Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center is one of four such facilities in the nation.