GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Air Force Senior Airman Nathan A. Woods, son of Ron and Carolyn Woods, of Waupaca, is a student at the Louis F. Garland Department of Defense Fire Academy, where he is studying to become a certified firefighter.
The academy is host to the fire protection apprentice course, training more than 1,400 students from all services each year in a comprehensive 68-day course that gives students the basics in fire science, live training drills, along with a dash of chemistry, physics and math.
More than 2,000 students attend advanced courses, as well. The school is accredited through the International Fire Service Accreditation and is recognized globally as the international standard for firefighters.
Woods has been mentally and physically challenged in his quest to become a firefighter. He believes that preparation, good habits from the beginning and repetition are some of the elements that transforms men and women into an experienced firefighter.
“I was sure that I would be tested and inspected every day here, so before I left home, I ran through the inspection and function checklist for my MSA FireHawk Response ensemble,” said Woods, who is assigned to the 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis, N.M.
Live fires in buildings and aircraft, a series of timed tasks and tests, and search and rescue drills in confined spaces in full firefighting gear, keeps Woods, and the other students at the top of their game.
“This training has been a great learning experience. I have spent many days studying terrorists’ use of weapons of mass destruction,” said the 2006 graduate of Waupaca High School.
For Woods and his fellow classmates, the outcome is far more than simply the realization of a dream. The results of their training and shared experience could easily result in lives saved in countless places and situations around the world.
“I am an emergency manager. We respond to many of the same incidents that the fire department does, but we are more specialized and focus on chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, explosive events,” said Woods, who has been in the military for four years. “I wanted to deal specifically with asymmetrical warfare and counterterrorist operations.”