CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The crackling, thunder-like rumble of diesel fuel and gasoline burning in the training pit overpowered any other sound around it. The four firemen approached this towering inferno with careful confidence; ready to tame what some might say is impossible to tame. As they turned their hoses on the burning blaze, it growled back at them in defiance as the icy water engulfed the fire to a smoldering end.
For the many firefighters here, extinguishing fires and practicing other firefighting skills are part of the daily routine.
"Two hours every weekday and six on Saturdays," said Jacksonville's Lt. Ronnie J. Bowling, driver/operator, Fire Station 4, Camp Lejeune Fire Department, about the training schedule for the firefighters here. "We do everything from rappelling and ladder drills to putting out controlled fires and mass casualty drills. We have to keep our skills sharp at all times."
According to Bowling, answering as many as 14 calls each day, requires the firefighters to train as much as possible.
"Besides doing our training within the department, other organizations come here to train us as well," said Capt. Darnell E. Humphrey from Jacksonville and Captain of Fire Station 6. "Civilian organizations can come on base and teach us things like how to handle hazardous material; and various other things. There is a lot of interaction between our department and civilian agencies."
Next to training to improve firefighting skills, the department teaches and informs the public.
"We not only want to keep our guys up on their fire safety skills, we like to teach everyone else about it also," said Capt. Gregory L. Hines, native of Holly Ridge, N.C., and captain of Fire Station 3. "We offer a really good fire prevention program to the Camp Lejeune community. It's designed to inform people on various subjects like how to properly use a fire extinguisher, how to prevent house fires and things like that."
Along with teaching as many people as possible about fire safety, they get involved with the community in more ways, said Hines.
"Being firefighters isn't only about fighting fires," said Hines. "We do all kinds of public relations too, such as supporting different charity events and providing fire prevention education for the kids at the base schools. We just pass on the training we get to everyone we possibly can."
The fire department personnel train daily so they can remain ready to handle any situation that comes to them no matter where or when, said Hines.
"We are always there to help when people need us," said Hines. "Even if it's four in the morning on Christmas or New Years; we'll be there to help."