Malmstrom participates in Fire Prevention Week

An Airman throws water onto a simulated burning building during Malmstrom Air Force Base’s fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster Oct. 10. While completing this station, contestants were required to fill a 55-gallon drum by throwing water onto the roof of the structure and having the runoff drain into the barrel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

An Airman throws water onto a simulated burning building during Malmstrom Air Force Base’s fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster Oct. 10. While completing this station, contestants were required to fill a 55-gallon drum by throwing water onto the roof of the structure and having the runoff drain into the barrel. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

An Airman with the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron pulls a weighted sled during Malmstrom Air Force Base’s fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster Oct. 10. The challenge consisted of about 10 different stations where competitors had to work as a team and muster all their strength to finish with the best time. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

An Airman with the 341st Civil Engineer Squadron pulls a weighted sled during Malmstrom Air Force Base’s fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster Oct. 10. The challenge consisted of about 10 different stations where competitors had to work as a team and muster all their strength to finish with the best time. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

Airmen compete in Malmstrom Air Force Bases fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster Oct. 10. Ten teams consisting of Airmen representing various squadrons around the base competed in the muster for a chance to win first place and bragging rights until next year’s competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

Airmen compete in Malmstrom Air Force Bases fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster Oct. 10. Ten teams consisting of Airmen representing various squadrons around the base competed in the muster for a chance to win first place and bragging rights until next year’s competition. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

The winning team of Malmstrom Air Force Base’s fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster pose for a photograph after recovering from the challenge Oct. 10. Airmen with the 341st Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force took first place with a winning time of six minutes and twenty one seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

The winning team of Malmstrom Air Force Base’s fourth annual Fire Prevention Week fire muster pose for a photograph after recovering from the challenge Oct. 10. Airmen with the 341st Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force took first place with a winning time of six minutes and twenty one seconds. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Collin Schmidt)

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- This year's Fire Prevention Week started off with a bang at Malmstrom Air Force Base. The week-long event, which was created to raise fire safety awareness, offered base personnel and residents the opportunity to learn from Malmstrom's very own firefighters about fire prevention while participating in more than 15 individual activities and a fire muster competition.

In addition to spreading awareness, the event is also held in part to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire tragedy that took place in October of 1871. During the blaze, which lasted two days, 250 people were killed and more than 17,000 buildings were destroyed.

The slogan for this year's FPW was "working smoke alarms save lives. Test yours every month." As a focal point of fire safety, Malmstrom's fire department would like people to be aware of the status of the smoke alarms in their homes.

They suggest a good way to keep your smoke detectors ready to go is by changing the batteries every time you move your clocks forward or backwards during daylight savings time.

"We have a pretty good running fire record here at Malmstrom," said Rick Naccarato, Assistant Fire Chief, fire prevention. "We don't have a lot of major situations because we always put the word out to everyone about the importance of fire safety and we offer a fire prevention program throughout the year.

"We keep awareness up and fires down, and that's always a plus," he continued.

For Malmstrom, the base's firefighters work in two shifts, which provide 24-hour support and protection to the base populace. Their training regime is intensive and designed to ensure that every member of the team knows what to do in the event of a fire or fire-related circumstance.

Members of Team Malmstrom had a chance to see just how intense firefighter training actually is during the fire muster competition. Ten teams came out to show what they were made of. The muster started off with contestants racing to get into a full firefighter uniform; from there it continued on to more than several different stations where each teammate had to step up physically and mentally to compete for the fastest time.

Some stations were designed to physically wear down the participants, simulating the endurance that would be needed in a real-life scenario. One station consisted of dragging a 170-pound steel box more than 75 feet.

Another was similar to crossfit competitions, where members used a sledge hammer to pound a heavy weight on a steel slide. And finally, one of the most cardio-intensive challenges was filling a 55-gallon drum by throwing buckets of water onto a roof and letting the runoff fill the barrel.

"This was the culmination of FPW," said Lt. Col. Walter Gibbins, 341st Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "It gets the idea out about what the fire dogs do every day. You may not hear much from them until you get the phone call or make a 911 call when you need them the most, so it's good to really get the public out to see what this career field does."

Overall, every team gave it their best shot and was cheered on by friends and family every step of the way. Wingmanship played a key role in the challenge.

"We hope that we can get to word out to as many people as possible," Naccarato said. "That's the idea behind FPW. When it comes to safety, every individual that we can get the word out to helps reduce the number of fire related injuries and deaths."