Chicago Fire at Truax Field

I got the call early on a Thursday morning. Firefighters from Chicago were on their way to Truax Field to train with our Truax Fire & Emergency Services team. They were on their way to learn more about the F-16 Fighting Falcon and how to best fight fires/help in emergency situations that involve military aircraft – in particular, fighter jets.

When I got to the hangar, they weren’t there yet. But, the jet was set up and our firefighters were partaking in their own review of the aircraft – making sure the new firefighters had all the up-to-date information they needed.

Just after 10am, the Chicago team (made up of members from O’Hare and Midway) walked through the hangar doors. The smiles on their faces said it all – they were ready to dig into their training!

The first step before the training began made me literally laugh out loud. The smallest firefighter on the Truax team was recruited to play a pilot for the day – why the smallest? Because he was the only one who could fit into the pilot uniform they had on-hand!

Once the “pilot” was in the cockpit and ready to roll, the official training began. I watched as our fire team walked the others through the safety procedures. They learned where the safest places to walk around the jet were, they learned how to safely lift the canopy to get the pilot out of harm’s way, and they learned about different pins on the jet. They were filled with all the knowledge they could possibly imagine – knowledge they didn’t previously have on this particular jet.

So, why was this training so important for the Chicago team? Because military aircraft land at Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Chicago Midway International Airport. We pray it doesn’t, but if an emergency dealing with military aircraft ever happens at those airports, those firefighters are now equipped to handle them!

The best part about it all, is that our firefighters get to train in Chicago too! Our firefighters handle both the civilian and military aircraft emergencies at the Dane County Regional Airport. Their close proximity to the flightline and runways allow them to be on the scene in just minutes. Knowing they are trained up in all types of aircraft makes me feel safe – hopefully it makes you feel safer too!

Here’s some video footage from Chicago Fire’s training visit to Madison!




About Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode

Tech. Sgt. Andrea F. Rhode is a photojournalist for the 115th Fighter Wing in Madison, Wisconsin.