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LRAFB Firefighters: Always ready

The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department is composed of both military and civilian personnel that work as one team to protect life, property and environment within the boundaries of the Air Force installation.Military personnel wear the red and black helmet while civilian personnel wear white helmets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department is composed of both military and civilian personnel that work as one team to protect life, property and environment within the boundaries of the Air Force installation. Military personnel wear the red and black helmet while civilian personnel wear white helmets. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Codie Collins)

The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department provides fire prevention, firefighting, rescue, and emergency response services to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The firefighters work 24-hour shifts, don 50- to 70-pounds of equipment in seconds, and respond to life threatening situations without hesitation at a moment’s notice. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Sommer Giron)

The 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department provides fire prevention, firefighting, rescue and emergency response services to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The firefighters work 24-hour shifts, don 50 to 70 pounds of equipment in seconds, and respond to life threatening situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kevin Sommer Giron)

A firefighter walks in front of a simulated aircraft while wearing fire protection equipment.

Senior Airman Michael Unruh, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, prepares for a simulated-aircraft fire Feb. 23, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The firefighters extinguished fires using fire trucks and fire hoses while wearing mission-oriented protected posture gear in addition to the duty uniform and fire protection equipment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kristine M. Gruwell)

A male firefighter uses a firehose to extinguish a fire during a training burn on a simulated aircraft.

Senior Airman Joseph Minnick, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, extinguishes flames on a mock aircraft during a training burn Feb. 23, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The crew responded and extinguished a simulated aircraft fire during an exercise. Little Rock AFB firefighters respond to fire alarm activations, vehicle accidents, flightline emergencies and technical rescue situations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Clark)

Two male firefighters make adjustments to their equipment

Senior Airman Joseph Minnick, 19th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter conducts an equipment check on a fellow firefighter Tech. Sgt. Randle Mitchell during a training burn exercise Feb. 23, 2018, at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. The firefighters don mission oriented protective posture gear underneath their fire protection equipment while responding to a simulated aircraft fire during an exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Kaylee Clark)

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. --

It’s 3:25 a.m. and the emergency alarm sounds bringing the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department to life.

The men and women of the 19th CES Fire Department rush out of their living quarters, donning 50 to 70 pounds of equipment as they hop in their firetrucks and leave the station to respond to possible life-threatening situations.

“We do everything we can to make sure that when people have their worst days, we are there to help them out,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Gold, 19th CES fire protection journeyman.

The Little Rock Air Force Base Firefighters work 48-hour shifts - eating, sleeping and training at the fire station. Firefighters perform specialized training tailored to improving emergency response skills by incorporating the use of fire equipment into workouts. 

Along with responding to emergency calls, training for real-world and wartime missions, and ensuring vehicles and equipment are fully operational they provide the local community with education services.

“We have multiple community partnerships, not only in the response aspect, but also in fire prevention and fire education,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christian Lyle, 19th CES assistant chief of operations. “We feel that if we can teach and help to prevent fires, we can help save people from having a bad day.”

On average, the fire department team receives about a 1,000 calls per year ranging from aircraft emergencies and auto accidents to hazardous material emergencies. Since firefighters regularly work together, often in dangerous conditions, a good working relationship is vital.

“We have to communicate effectively when we are out on emergencies. Each person on the team needs to know that we have each other’s back,” Gold said. “Being part of the fire department is being part of a family.”

By the end of the day, the Airmen are able to have some downtime to relax and families are welcome to stop by the station to share a meal, keeping in mind they might have to respond to an emergency at a moment’s notice.

“We live by the motto: if we’re not actively fighting fires, we’re training to fight the fire,” Lyle said. “If we’re not actively supporting the war mission, we’re training to support the war mission.”

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