Home' Air Force News : January 31st 2013 Contents Feature
January 31, 2013
CLOSE to 500 Air Force
and Army students com-
pleted training at the
RAAF Security and Fire School
(RAAFSFS) at RAAF Base
Amberley last year.
The facility, which opened in
November 2011, delivers 54 differ-
ent trade and employment courses
for ground defence, security police,
military working dog handlers, air-
field engineers and firefighters.
Airfield engineer courses include
training for site foremen, electri-
cians, plumbers, carpenters and
RAAFSFS is also home to the
ADF's only military working dog
breeding program, which develops
dogs from puppies through to young
adult dogs ready for teaming with a
handler on course.
On completion of the police
course at RAAFSFS, students
are teamed with a dog and begin
a 13-week military working dog
(MWD) handler course.
Dog handler instructor SGT
Craig Westendorf said students were
taught theory and practical lessons
on how to control and handle a dog
in order to protect Defence assets.
"We watch the dogs before the
course to understand their tempera-
ment and level of training and also
observe the students' personalities
to try and match them with their
dogs as best we can," he said.
"Clear Signals Training used by
the US Department of Defense is
what we are looking at for future
training at the school as it is all
about motivating focused dogs to
do what you want rather than com-
CO RAAFSFS WGCDR Antony
Houghton is a communications
electronics engineer by trade and
spent 20 years with the Royal Air
Force, which included service in
Northern Ireland, Bosnia and the
Middle East before he joined the
RAAF in 2004.
On his last deployment he was
Commander FCU4 in the Middle
East.WGCDR Houghton said liv-
ing behind a defended wire with
armed guards in the UK and
overseas for such a long time had
given him a strong alignment and
experience with force protection.
"It's fantastic to have so many
of the key force protection trades
in one school," he said.
"Being in Air Force Training
Group means we can focus on the
basic skills before the trainees go
to their units for further specialist
and equipment training.
"Air Force and Army have a lot
of common skills, vehicles and
equipment; it is largely only the
application of these skills and the
employment of those systems
which separate us from a doctri-
"From a force protection per-
spective, the centre of gravity for
Air Force is its air bases, whereas
Army has a greater focus on
"We have been able to
rationalise our common areas of
training and teach them in one
place which will save money for
Defence and allow us to work with
greater synergy on operations."
pelling them. It's more productive,
easier on the dogs, they respond to
it well and there is very little which
can go wrong."
The RAAFSFS basic firefight-
ing course is 22 weeks of physically
and mentally demanding training.
When qualified, members are
able to rapidly respond to incidents
involving aircraft and structural
fires, road accidents, hazardous
materials, bushfires and technical
They also adapt their future
training for the needs of their par-
ticular base or unit.
CPL Neil Gill has been an
instructor with the Fire Training
Flight for nearly two years and said
initial employment as well as post
graduate training was conducted at
"We are teaching the most up-to-
date technical skills," CPL Gill said.
"Students are required to do a lot of
study, including after hours, as fire
fighting is a technical trade requir-
ing specialist tools.
"I recommend students who
come here have an open mind and a
Gas-operated fire simulators at
the RAAFSFS include a passenger
aircraft, a fighter jet and a multi-
story building, which are all con-
trolled by computers and software
from the simulator control office to
give the trainees a realistic training
The simulators allow instruc-
tors to recreate different emergency
scenarios such as fuel spills, wing,
engine or tail fires and help develop
realistic internal rescue scenarios
while providing maximum safety at
A wealth of experience
Antony Houghton at
RAAFSFS; inset, SGT
observes CPL Bevan
McKew during a
training session with
Photos: CPL Mark Doran
EQUIPPING STUDENTS: Fire Training Flight
nstructor CPL Neil Gill; inset, firefighters in training.
Photos: CPLs Mark Doran and Casey Smith
RAAFSFS fills a need
for both Air Force and
CPL Mark Doran
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