Every enlisted man and woman who has the honor and privilege of donning the dress uniform United States Navy had to first put on some fire-retardant coveralls, flash gear pick up a nozzle and hose and learn to become a firefighter. I mean that in every way that a professional firefighter exists.
Every United States Sailor is a qualified firefighter. I’m not talking about running into an office to put out a shit-can fire-fire. I’m talking about you wake up and you can’t see because the smoke is so thick, so you grab an emergency breather (Sailors sleep with these…and I’m not saying that as a euphemism) that is installed at the foot of your rack, haul your ass out of bed, crawling on the deck to your fire fighting station, put on a full FFE with external lungs and masks and get your ass in there to fight a holy-shit-there-is-a-fire-next-to-bombs-and-fuel kind of fire.
One luxury that ‘professional’ (I mean that in the most respectful way) firefighters have is to not engage a fire or choose to capitulate or ‘rally’ if it is looking no-bueno.
Sailors have no such luxury. Which is why we are taught with absolute granularity about the science, behavior and classes of fires. We are taught techniques, procedures and the right way to team-fight a fire. We are shown videos of men dying in a fire on a Carrier, during week 3 of Boot Camp. Men who rushed into fighting an on deck/aircraft/munitions fire when an aircraft launched a missile because of a power surge.
It did not have the safety pin installed.
It hit another aircraft on its external tank, fuel fire broke out and now there were bombs sitting in JP fuel. From the view of the deck cameras we saw a guy with a bottle of purple ‘k’ powder, running in to try and snuff the fuel fire out when a bomb detonated. One of the things I will never forget is watching that.
Later on in my career, I had the honor and displeasure of serving as the relief nozzle-man for hose #2 for an evaluation the Navy administers to all new ships before they get underway, to make sure they understand how to fight a fire should one break out. So every duty day (1/3), I got to spend 2 hours in an FFE, up and down ladders, both ways, pretending to fight an engine room fire, that was simulated by a guy with 2 sticks in his hands. Red and Black. I’ll let you guess what they stood for.
Ironically, the hatch leading in to the engine room had a “WARNING: HALON” sign stuck to it. I hated that sign.
Not only can sailors fire missiles, shoot guns, drink beer, cuss and spend money like there won’t be an opportunity tomorrow….but they fight fires with the motivation that if they fail, everyone dies.