Cadets become firefighters for day at Osan

Cadet 2nd Class Mathew Bell suits up for the firefighters physical training challenge.
 U. S. Air Force Academy cadets participated in field training with 51st Civil Engineer firefighters at Osan Air Base May 18.

Cadet 3rd Class Matthew Bell suits up for the firefighters' physical training challenge at Osan Air Base, South Korea, May 18, 2011. Cadets from the Air Force Academy spent the day with Airmen from the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron learning about firefighters' regular duties. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Cadets 3rd class Victoria Cachro and Randi Imerman (L-R) talk after the firefighters physical training challenge.  U. S. Air Force Academy cadets participated in field training with 51st Civil Engineer firefighters May 18.

Cadets 3rd Class Victoria Cachro, left, and Randi Imerman talk after taking part in the firefighters' physical training challenge at Osan Air Base, South Korea, May 18, 2011. The cadets from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., spent the day becoming familiar with firefighters' jobs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Evelyn Chavez)

Cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy joined Osan’s own ‘Fire Dawgs’ for a day, here, May 18.   (Photo by Staff Sgt. Daylena Gonzalez)

An Air Force Academy cadet navigates a smoke-filled room during firefighter orientation at Osan Air Base, South Korea, May 18, 2011. Cadets teamed with the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron fire department to learn about firefighting techniques. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Daylena Gonzalez)

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea -- Cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., joined the 51st Fighter Wing's own "Fire Dawgs" for a day here May 19.

Field training is, in most cases, a cadet's first exposure to a working Air Force environment. The majority of the cadets who visited are currently majoring in civil engineering, some with a double major to include environmental engineering.

Staff Sgt. Paul Morris, a 51st Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, greeted the cadets, gave them a fire house tour, issued personal protective equipment, assigned the cadets to trucks and preformed a vehicle familiarization and safety brief. Once the formalities were complete, it was on.

First up for the eager cadets was the firefighter's physical training regimen. The training, to be completed within eight minutes, consisted of six obstacles and a total of eight tasks: hand-carrying 50-pound Jaws of Life 100 feet; climbing a stationary ladder three times; flipping a fire truck tire four times, simulating a hoist exercise; and dragging a 185-pound "victim" 100 feet.

Cadet 3rd Class Randi Imerman completed the course in seven minutes, 38 seconds.

"It wasn't that bad," Cadet Imerman said. "It's just really, really hot in all this gear."

Without an ounce of hesitation, but tons of determination, each cadet completed the challenge in less than the eight minutes allotted. Cadet 3rd Class Matthew Bell completed the course in the shortest time: 3:27.

"The course looked tougher than it really was, but it's all about the technique," Cadet Bell said.

From there, the cadets embraced the next exercise: search and rescue. The "Fire Dawgs" went all out, giving the cadets a realistic scenario by smoking out an office building and hiding a victim amongst the cubicles.

Sergeant Morris and fellow firefighters demonstrated the correct techniques and approaches for the given circumstance, taking into consideration the absence of light in a smoke-filled building.

The cadets had few questions before suiting up and going to work. Using the hand-to-right-wall technique, the cadets thoroughly searched for and recovered the "victim," who was hidden under a desk near the back of the building.

While conversing with the cadets after their eventful day, they summed up the experience collectively, by saying, "This opportunity was a great one. (We) learned a lot and have a newfound respect for firefighters."