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FIRE! MAINTAINERS' TRAINING, INSTINCT SAVE B-52H BOMBER, AIRCREW

A B-52H Stratofortress takes off from Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, June 23 during Northern Edge 2009. The exercise is one in a series of U.S. Pacific Command exercises that prepare joint forces to respond to crises in the region. The B-52 is assigned to Barksdale AFB, La. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

After a B-52H Stratofortress from Barksdale AFB, La., landed on the flight line Aug. 27, a brake fire broke out in the wheel and tire assembly, threatening the lives of the seven aircrew members manning the aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher Boitz)

Five heroic maintainers, led by Airman 1st Class Elias Delarosa (front), acted quickly by evacuating the aircrew and controlling the fire until the Barksdale Fire Department arrived. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony/ Released)

Five heroic maintainers, led by Airman 1st Class Elias Delarosa (front), acted quickly by evacuating the aircrew and controlling the fire until the Barksdale Fire Department arrived. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Micaiah Anthony/ Released)

A B-52H Stratofortress sits on jacks on Barksdale Air Force Base, La., Aug. 28, 2013. The aircraft was put on jacks for maintenance due to a brake fire that started while the aircraft was taxiing. The #3 brake, wheel and tire assembly was damaged totaling $50,000 in replacement parts and repair. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joseph Pagán)

Sitting on jacks, the B-52H bomber awaits maintenance after the brake fire that started while it was taxiing down the runway. The Number 3 brake, wheel and tire assembly was damaged, totaling more than $20,000 in replacement parts and repairs. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Joseph Pagán)

Barksdale Air Force Base, La. -- Quick, decisive action by two Airmen from the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., dowsed a fire on a B-52H Stratofortress, and with the assistance of three more Airmen, saved all seven aircrew members aboard the bomber aircraft Aug. 27.

At 3 p.m., the B-52 was taxiing to its parking spot on the flight line after landing. As maintenance crews were working in the area and the crew chief was preparing to receive the aircraft, they noticed a puff of smoke. As the aircraft was finally parking and setting the brakes, the Number 3 brake caught on fire.

Airman 1st Class Elias Delarosa was the crew chief marshaling the aircraft and, along with Staff Sgt. Mark Corral, grabbed the fire bottle and rushed to the aircraft.

"When I saw the fire, my mind immediately raced to the refresher training I had just received earlier that morning," Delarosa said. "I was thinking about the acronym that goes along with using the fire bottle, and instinct kicked in."

The acronym from the fire portion of the annual maintenance refresher training is P.A.S.S. -- pull, aim, squeeze and sweep -- and that is exactly what Delarosa did.

"We've all gone through the training, so we know the video well," Corral said. "He did exactly what the video example shows and got down on one knee to control the hose, going through all the motions to sweep the fire."

During this quick transition of tasks, another 2nd AMXS crew chief, Staff Sgt. Billy Campbell, gave the aircrew the emergency signals to shut down the engines and exit the aircraft. The 96th Aircraft Maintenance Unit production super, Master Sgt. Kevin Rowe, and the 2nd AMXS crew chief expediter, Staff Sgt. Brad Davis, assisted
the aircrew from evacuating the flight deck.

"When the ground emergency started happening, the first thing I thought was to get the area safe and set up a cordon before the fire department arrived," Rowe said. "As Delarosa was situating the fire bottle, we were getting everyone out of the area, getting the crew off the jet and to a safe location and everything else just kind of flowed."

While the first bottle was getting close to empty, both Rowe and Davis rushed to a nearby aircraft to shut down the refuel and evacuate the personnel. They brought an extra fire bottle back to Delarosa and Corral. As they were getting it into position, the fire department arrived and took over.

When the emergency was contained and all personnel were safe, the aircrew and maintenance personnel involved were taken to flight medicine, evaluated and released back to duty.

"In events like this, you don't know what's going to happen; you just react," Rowe said. "These guys did exactly what they were supposed to do, and I'm very proud of them. Tomorrow, we go on with normal business and a reminder that refresher training is just as important as our daily tasks to accomplish the mission."

Damages to the brake and wheel and tire assembly, which will need to be replaced, are estimated at more than $20,000.

"We as Airmen are faced with a choice. We all think, hope, pray that when it comes to our turn... that we're going to do these heroic things," said Col. Andrew Gebara, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "We never know, though, until we're finally tested and we have to rely on our training and courage just as these Airmen did when they made the choice. These things can get out of control very quickly, and this emergency could have easily caused more extensive damage and possibly funerals. On behalf of the aircrew and the men and women of the bomb wing, we thank you for making the choice."