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Not without passion - being a Royal Australian Air Force fire fighter

Australia's Air Force fire fighters are passionate about their work."

Through the years, there have been many changes and developments that have led to Australia's involvement in global issues - from World War I and II to Vietnam and Afghanistan.  However, one thing remains a constant - the passion and love personnel have for their jobs.

Dedicated fire fighters are at the heart of protecting and helping the second-oldest independent air force in the world.

But who are the people that play an instrumental part in the RAAF and what do Australia's overseas operations look like specifically though?

Air Force reserve fire fighters from Queensland are now deployed in the Middle East.Air Force reserve fire fighters from Queensland are now deployed in the Middle East.

Passion, dedication and excitement for RAAF fire fighters

Recently, the department of Defence released news that three dedicated RAAF fire fighters - Leading Aircraftsman (Lac) Jed Crosby, Sergeant (Sgt) Adam Elms and Flight Seargant (Fsgt) Lewis MacLennan - are now serving their country as Combat Support Unit 15 to Camp Baird in the Middle East. 

The three men not only have previous experience in the region, but are all full-time civilian fire brigade officers for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service. Now, they are deployed to protect aviation assets and structures at Camp Baird alongside personnel from the U.K.

After enjoying the time he served overseas, Lac Crosby decided to remain in reserve when he made the move to station officer in Queensland.

"I wouldn't be in my civilian job if I hadn't had the training and experience from my previous military service," he added. 

Working under him in the Middle East are Fsgt MacLennan, who teaches fire fighting courses for Army and Air Force personnel as civilian, and Sgt Elms, who is the airfield fire controller in his Queensland role. 

Dedication and excitement for serving Australia as fire fighters stem from a genuine passion to help people in an ever-changing environment. Challenging themselves every day they spend in the field, the three men serve as prime example for the efforts put into Australia's defence globally. 

Applicants need to be between 17 and 60 years old.

What does it take to be a fire fighter in the Defence Force?

For a better understanding of what being a reserve fire fighter means in real terms, let's take a look at the process of becoming one. 

It all starts with passing the general requirements. To join the Australian Air Force, applicants need to be between 17 and 60 years old, be an Australian citizen (something only disregarded in exceptional circumstances) and pass appropriate security clearance. In addition to this, applicants are required to undergo aptitude testing, which includes everything from verbal to numerical abilities. 

Once the testing is completed and applicants are accepted, there are military training stages to complete. As reservist, there is a choice between full-time and part-time training. Option one includes 12.6 weeks of intensive training to get knowledge, fitness and skills up to scratch. Option two, on the other hand, is a four-step program, where training is split into full-time blocks, each lasting two to four weeks; the applicant has two years to complete the full instructions. 

The preparation doesn't end here, though. Two more phases of specific employment training - two weeks of vehicle driving and 20 weeks of a Basic Fire-Fighting Course - follow before fire fighters undergo even more training specific to the particular roles as part of career progression. 

More than 2,000 personnel are deployed internationally.More than 2,000 personnel are deployed internationally.

How involved is Australia in overseas operations?

Currently, according to the Royal Australian Air Force, there are three major operations in the Middle Eastern region in which the country is involved. 

  1. Operation ACCORDION: focusing on contingency planning, relationship building and mission support of the Australian Defence Force (ADF).
  2. Operation HIGHROAD: introducing advice and assistance in Afghanistan after the completion of operation SLIPPER, which saw Australia partake in a 13-year long mission. Putting more emphasis on the recognition of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) has also meant a shift from combat to resolute support. 
  3. Operation OKRA: concentrating on fighting the Iraqi and Syrian ISIS threat, this mission engages with international governments and partners. Personnel in this mission make up the Air Task Group (ATG)  and the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG).

Overall, Australia has more than 2,000 personnel operating in overseas missions, most of which are ongoing. The Royal Air Force even provides a list of locations where troops are situated; including Afghanistan, Egypt, Israel, Sudan and Lebanon - as well as closer to home in the Southern Indian Ocean. 

In essence, every person serving the country in the Royal Australian Air Force - wether it's as fire fighter or in some other function - chooses to join the Defence Force for different reasons. But there is one thing all of them have in common -passion for their job.

Interconnect Systems has a comprehensive background in aerospace and defence engineering, being an industry leader for more than 20 years. It provides electrical interconnect products and solutions, including cable and wire harness manufacture. For more information on the best backshells and cable harness solutions, contact Interconnect Systems today on 1800 812 214 FREE.

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