How RAF firemen battle blazes AND Taliban insurgents ‘UNLIKE CIVILIAN FIREFIGHTERS, WE’RE TRAINED TO USE DEADLY FORCE!’ REPORTING FROM THE FRONT LINE IN AFGHANISTAN
blast from another nearby explosive forced SAC McGeorge into action.
South Africaborn McGeorge, whose British grandfather also served in the South African Airforce, recalled: “We were walking around the side of the stricken vehicle when, out of nowhere, we heard an explosion.
“We hit the deck and looked up and saw one of our American allies dragging his mate away from the area. The casualty was in a bad way. There was a lot of blood coming from his throat.
“That’s when we realized a second IED had gone off. One of the American medics got straight to work on the casualty, while we looked down our sights, scoping for any insurgents.
“Myself and the two other firemen set up a ground WHEN you’re serving in Afghanistan, you’re expected to fight – no matter what your role.
Which is why even military FIREMEN have to swap their water hoses for machine guns when faced with Taliban assassins.
Here, in an EXCLUSIVE interview with one RAF flame-douser, reveals how all service personnel in war-torn Helmand Province are required to do their bit to protect our troops. defence around the medics, covering them with our rifles while they fought to save the man’s life.
“We were completely alone, left with a stricken vehicle – which we used for cover while trying to fend off any enemies – and waiting for a rescue helicopter to land.
“The casualty was lifted back to Bastion hospital as we waited to evacuate.”
Unlike civilian firefighters, the RAF’s fire unit are trained to use weapons – and instructed to use deadly force if necessary.
They complete regular combat training sessions while on tour, as well as fire support drills.
All fire unit members are equipped with a standard SA80 A2 5.56mm Light Support Weapon.
Their kit – which includes Osprey body armour, helmet, rescue kit, Bergen rucksack, portable fire extinguisher, circular cutting saw and toolkit – weighs-in at a whopping 40kg.
Under the glare of the Afghan summer sun, when the mercury can hit 50 degrees C, that load will test a fireman’s stamina.
And SAC McGeorge – who is on his second tour in Afghanistan, the most recent lasting four months – says being a military fireman will also test your ‘nerve’ too.
Speaking about the fatal IED attack, which took place in 2011, he added: “You just have to deal with what’s in front of you.
“It’s a challenging role in all aspects, and it’s a test of your nerve and bottle.
“You’re there primarily to work as a fireman. But you also have to be prepared for combat. You don’t want it to come to that. But that’s what makes us so different to civilian firefighters.
“Yes, you’re not expected to have to use that combat training all the time, but it’s there when you need it.
“Within 24 hours we were back on it again. It’s just one of those things. The team can’t afford for you to take a break or anything like that.
“I know people deal with trauma differently, but for me personally, I’d rather get back on the bike and throw myself into the thick of it straight away.”