Timing is everything, especially when Exercise Evaluation Team members are able to overlap real-world events with emergency scenario exercises.
On Nov. 26, EET members at Edwards did just that, with the help of the 412th Civil Engineering Directorate personnel and the Edwards Fire Department, by testing a new fire suppression system in Hangar 1210 and evaluating the response of on-base emergency personnel.
“We have had several High Expansion Foam Systems installed here at Edwards and each system has been tested as part of the certification process. This was the first time we coupled a system test with a base exercise,” said Klaus Koepp, 412th CE Fire and Emergency Services deputy fire chief.
“The test is a normal procedure on newly-installed fire suppression systems to prove the system will perform as advertised and meet all Air Force criteria,” added James Judkins, 412th CE base civil engineer. “This test was incorporated into an exercise for the purpose of learning how to gain and maintain control of a site after a discharge incident has occurred.”
Prior to the start of the exercise, the hangar, which has 10 large capacity and 2 small capacity foam generators, released approximately 110 gallons of two percent Ansul Jet-Ex foam concentrate, according to Judkins.
“These systems are some of the newest hangar suppression systems out there and many of our responders have never seen an actual discharge of Hi-Ex foam. The foam is detergent-based with additives to keep it stable and keep it from freezing,” Koepp said. “Most of what people see is the bubbles. Once the concentrate goes through the foam generators, it is about 98 percent water and only 2 percent concentrate.”
Once the foam was released, Judkins said that EETs reviewed how personnel controlled accountability of people within the facility, as well as how security forces members kept all unnecessary people out of the immediate affected area.
“During this exercise, the EET tried to get several people to sneak or bluff their way past our control zones and reenter the facility,” said Koepp. “Our security forces teams did a great job in securing a large open area and stopping all incursions.”
Once accountability was taken, Judkins said crews assessed all damage, investigated the cause of the incident and restored the fire suppression system to an operational status.
“Civil Engineering and the 412th Medical Group used this as a learning experience to determine how long it takes the foam to dissipate and to measure the air quality during discharge,” said Judkins.
“At this exercise we had the normal players: fire, security forces and medics. The Emergency Operations Center stood up to provide technical and logistical support. We also called in Environmental, Bioenvironmental, Civil Engineering, fire suppression and alarm technicians and some flightline maintainers who would normally work in the facility,” added Koepp. “Even with the added demands of conducting an acceptance test concurrent with a base exercise things went surprisingly smoothly. The Exercise Evaluation Team has plans to do similar exercises in the future and add the complexity of dealing with a large crowd along with a facility having major problems.”
The next combined exercise and acceptance test will occur near the end of December in Hangar 1207.