KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, Japan -- Japanese firefighters from Marine Corps Bases Japan Fire Department conducted training at the Live Fire Structural Trainer, commonly referred to as the "burn house," on Kadena Air Base Jan. 18-19.
Instructors began the training teaching lessons inside the fireproof metal building to show the firefighters how the propane-fueled fire system worked. The system simulates three actual fires within the building.
The firefighters then split up into three-man attack teams and took turns putting out fires and rescuing victims from the burn house.
The teams had to enter the living room of the burn house through the front door and crawl across the floor to avoid smoke as they searched for victims - heavy rubber dummies - that they had to evacuate.
Teams then had to move on to the kitchen to the source of the fire and put out all three propane fires and rescue another simulated victim.
The firefighters occasionally sprayed a cone of water out of a kitchen window to create suction that cleared the room of smoke.
One team deliberately played dead, setting off their personal alert safety system devices, which emit a screeching alarm that lets other firefighters know when one of their own is in trouble.
Yuki Kumazawa, the department's newest recruit who is still undergoing basic fire training, was on the backup team when he heard the alarms. Kumazawa said he panicked at first because the backup teams had not had any activity all day and the situation was an unexpected portion of the training.
He said he quickly put his fears and insecurities aside and followed the lead of the senior firefighters.
Sensory overload was a possibility as the backup team entered the house, said Eric Rhode, the assistant training chief of the department. The amount of smoke in the house made eyesight useless, and the three blaring alarms on the downed firefighters fiercely resonated in the backup teams' ears. But they were able to stay focused as they rescued their fellow firefighters and put out the fire.
"You want to train in the most realistic environment possible, but in a controlled setting," Rhode said.
Kumazawa will receive his Department of Defense certification to officially become a MCBJ Fire Department firefighter in a ceremony Feb. 20. He will then join the Camp Kinser Fire Department.