Turkmen fire chiefs receive training at NAS Fallon
Nevada Appeal News Service
FALLON – A small group of firefighters steadily positioned themselves near the tail of a jet simulator. A small fire broke out in one engine, causing the hoseman to wheel around and douse water on the flame.
Another fire sprung up in a wheel, but the crew shifted left and quickly extinguished that fire. After 15 minutes of maneuvering a hose from one side of the jet simulator to the other, another crew began their short shift.
A delegation of eight fire chiefs from Turkmenistan and government officials participated in a one-day training to use techniques in extinguishing a series of small fires on a mobile aircraft fire trainer and to douse flames on a jet fuel fire at Naval Air Station Fallon recently.
John Kochergin, a Reno firefighter who speaks fluent Russian, not only assisted as a translator but instructed the Turkmen.
“It was a good hands-on for them. It acquainted them with the basics of firefighting,” said Kochergin, whose relatives left St. Petersburg in 1917. “It’s an intimidating factor to see fire of any magnitude from different angles.”
Although the Turkmen received practice on the simulator, Kochergin said a full weekend of training would have given each Turkmen a better grasp of the different techniques and scenarios that affect crash and fire operations.
Kochergin said some training the Turkmen undergo in their republic is more advanced than that used in this country. However, he said their equipment is more antiquated.
Nury Muratliyev, a station fire chief in one of the administrative areas, said through an interpreter the U.S. government firefighters use unfamiliar ways to extinguish fires.
“You use unusual tactics and a different approach,” he said, “but the tactics are good.”
Muratliyev, though, said the fire training on the jet was beneficial.
“I would like to have simulators like this in our country,” he added, showing a big smile toward the interpreter.
The delegation that spent one day in Fallon arrived in the United States last week as part of the Nevada National Guard’s exchange program with Turkmenistan. Since the program began in 1995, dozens of trips between Turkmenistan and Nevada have promoted cultural awareness, training and understanding.
Stuart Cook, fire chief at NAS Fallon, said the U.S. Navy and Nevada Air National Guard regularly train together, so Wednesday’s exercise was nothing out of the ordinary.
“This is a refresher for the trainers, and my guys are on duty,” Cook said. “We have a good working relationship with the Guard.”
Capt. Kevin Bandoni, assistant fire chief for the Nevada Air National Guard, said the training was definitely a multi-service venture. The Air Guard brought several firefighters, to Fallon while the Army Guard provided logistics.
Bandoni said all the Turkmen grew up during the Soviet era and are used to following rules.
“There’s very little flexibility,” Bandoni said, referring to the decision-making process in Turkmenistan.
Senior Master Sgt. Michael Brown, chief of the Nevada Air National Guard Fire Department, said the stop in Fallon was part of a week-long training in fire science.
“They also had HAZMAT (hazardous material) and rescue classes (at the Reno Fire Department) and wildland fire training (Nevada Division of Forestry),” said Brown, a 1981 Churchill County High School graduate who previously worked as a firefighter at the base.
NAS Fallon firemen also stood watch at the pit, a small area east of the main base where groups from different government entities receive training in extinguishing jet fuel fires.
John Short, assistant chief, said the exercise simulates a huge fuel spill if a jet were to crash and spread burning jet fuel.
Once hundreds of gallons of jet fuel were pumped into the pit and lit, a billowing column of thick, black smoke rose several hundred feet into the area, and the heat near the pit rapidly climbed to near 200 degrees.
Yuri Musayev, the head of a regional oil and gas refinery, said the training was good.
“We liked it very much. It’s a good exercise,” he said.