The 'dirty dozen' take on fire inspector course at Arnold

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Arnold Air Force Base (AFB) Fire and Emergency Services recently hosted a two-week Fire Inspector I Mobile Travel Team (MTT) course from the Louis F. Garland Fire Academy from Goodfellow AFB, Texas.

Daryle Lopes, chief of Fire and Emergency Services at Arnold, said this was a highly sought after opportunity, and they are proud to say a second MTT course for hazardous materials technicians is scheduled for September 2009.

A group of 12 firefighters from across the country, six from Arnold Engineering Development Center (AEDC), two from the 96th Civil Engineer Squadron at Eglin AFB Fla., one from the 147th Recon Wing at Ellington Air National Guard Base, Texas and three from the 130th Civil Engineering Squadron from Charleston Air National Guard Base, W.V., were students.

Fire Inspector Course Supervisor Ron Hoelle from Goodfellow AFB, Texas taught the course along with Staff Sgt. Essam Cordova also from Goodfellow AFB.

Hoelle is part of the Mobile Travel Team who are tasked to travel Department of Defense (DoD) installations around the world teaching inspector courses.

The firefighters, who learned to understand and evaluate the adequacy of building construction, fire suppression and alarm systems, life safety and code compliance, were certified to the Fire Inspector I level by the DoD through the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress.

"I like traveling with the guys," Hoelle said. "I get a wealth of information from them that I can take back to the academy and teach the new firefighters."

According to Chief Lopes, the DoD Fire Inspector I course is very demanding with lots of variances, formulas, factors and homework.

"The instructors were pleased with the student attentiveness, response and comprehension," Chief Lopes said. "The students could not say enough about the advanced level of knowledge, skills and teaching ability demonstrated by the instructors."

"Unknown to most," the chief said, "the very namesake of Arnold AFB is also the founder of all formal and technical fire training courses."

In 1943, General of the Air Force Henry 'Hap' Arnold established the first formal fire protection training course at Geiger Field, Washington.

The school was relocated to Lowry Field, Colo., then moved to Greenville AFB, Miss., where it became the "Fire Protection Training Branch." The Branch later moved to Chanute AFB, Ill.

From 1965 through 1975, Chief Warrant Officer Louis F. Garland took charge of the Fire School at Chanute and began a quest for excellence that led to many great accomplishments, which laid the groundwork for Air Force Fire Protection, as it's known today.

Fire School personnel developed new airport fire fighting principles whose modern versions have been adopted by the DoD, 44 states and 19 foreign countries worldwide.

The Fire Prevention Inspector course, developed in 1967, was credited with reducing Air Force wide fire losses by 80 percent over the following 10-year period.

The first DoD Firefighter Rescueman course was developed in 1970.

In 1972, Fire School personnel developed nationwide training standards for the Federal Aviation Administration to enforce compliance with new airport Crash Fire Rescue regulations.

The Fire School became officially known as the "Fire Protection Training Division" from 1975-1993.

The Advanced Fire Technology course was developed in 1978, and the U.S. Army Fire School at Fort Rucker, Ala., was closed and joint training began at Chanute AFB.

The Base Realignment and Closure Commission closed Chanute AFB, and the DoD Fire Academy was created at Goodfellow, AFB in San Angelo, Texas, opening its doors for the first time Aug. 16, 1993.

Two days later the Fire School created by Hap Arnold was renamed the Louis F. Garland Fire Academy and today the academy claims bragging rights as the finest fire protection training center in the world, offering a wide range of specialized training to firefighters across the DoD spectrum.

An idea that started with General Arnold has returned to Arnold AFB.

"Everyone at Arnold Fire and Emergencies Services considers it an extraordinary privilege to have these courses brought to our base," the chief said. "Though this is the first course of its kind to be conducted here, it seems in fact, that this was actually meant to be. Like a reunion of two old friends the Fire Academy and Arnold AFB share a deep connection in the pages of history because of AEDC's namesake."