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Thursday, December 13 , 2018, 4:13 am | Fair 46º

 
 
 
 

Book Depicts Life of US Air Force Firefighter

Many of us “old timers” like to refer to the “good old days,” usually pointing to references of how it was done much better back then.

The Life of a US Air Force Firefighter 1960–1980 is a compilation of short stories about events that occurred in the daily life of an Air Force firefighter while serving at air bases in three foreign countries and several locations around the United States.

Some would say it represents the “bad old days” because of the absence of good equipment and training that was based on how clean you kept your equipment and fire stations, rather than perfecting the skills of a firefighter.

While some of the stories are tragic, most depict the often-mundane work of fire station life and of course the attitude of the non-commissioned officers that oversaw firefighting operations at the time.

Some excerpts from the book: “A couple of hours into the shift we were dispatched to our emergency-standby spots with instructions that a German Air Force F-86 was coming in with ‘engine problems.’

“We just about got to our place at the approach end of the runway when the airplane, going over 100 miles an hour, hit the small building in front of us between the runways!

“There was not any noise at first, just a big cloud of dust and smoke and a lot of flames; then a huge BOOM.

“Our crew was the first to arrive and the crew in the cab began spraying foam from the rooftop water cannons before the truck stopped; airplane and building parts were everywhere as flaming jet fuel burned.”

“On another morning we were sitting at our position and a flight of four F-4 Phantom jets was preparing for takeoff. These jets were originally built for the Navy; however, the Air Force began testing them in 1962 as fighter-bombers and this was just supposed to be another test of a weapons delivery system.
 
“They were sitting there a few yards away, their engines running and canopies open doing the final checks before they took off.  Suddenly, as the canopies began to close one of the crewmembers ejected for no apparent reason.

“This was before ‘zero altitude’ ejection seats had been developed and parachutes still didn’t deploy at low altitude, so he simply went up and we sat there mesmerized as the poor guy flew about 100 feet in the air and then plummeted down onto the tail of the airplane and fell to the pavement still strapped to the heavy seat.”
 
The “rest of the story,”as Paul Harvey used to say, is in the book.

Every person who ever served in the U.S. Air Force or any other military branch has a story to tell; this book tells mine.

The book is divided into easily digestible segments and each chapter is a complete story of events that occurred at specific air base locations; most of those places have been deactivated, but some still exist.

Much has changed since the period this book chronicles; today the firefighters of the US Air Force are dramatically better trained and equipped.

Firefighters meet and exceed national standards, equipment is of modern design and construction, training protocols are equivalent to their civilian counterparts and fire prevention standards are among the finest in the nation.
 
This book is available at https://www.authorhouse.com/bookstore/bookdetail.aspx?bookid=SKU-001192864.

— Ron Fink.

 

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