Fairchild firefighters, legal team up for fire inspector training

Firefighters train with legal

Airmen from the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron and 92nd Air Refueling Wing Staff Judge Advocate office participate in a mock trial, July 3, 2018 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. Firefighters received the training because as a first responder, they may have to testify in a case. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Samantha Krolikowski)

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- It’s not uncommon to have nerves before going on the stand during a trial. Depending on the job Airmen have, they may have to testify at some point in their career.

Members from the 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron got the opportunity to participate in a mock trial as part of fire inspector training July 3, 2018, at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington. In the past, trainees only discussed the deposition process with a member from legal. According to Bryant Benitez, 92nd CES fire prevention inspector, recent training is an improvement because it allows for hands-on training.

“As a first responder, we might be called to testify about facts witnessed on any incident that we may have to respond to or have knowledge on,” Benitez said. “Every first responder should have an understanding of the procedures of the court. They should understand the functions of the judge, attorneys, etc.”

The members learned how to effectively provide information the prosecution and defense may need during a trial.
“It’s important for fire inspectors to know how to speak on the stand because as a first responder, fire inspectors are likely to be called to testify about the results of their inspections,” Maj. Tiffany Johnson, 92nd Air Refueling Wing deputy staff judge advocate. “Their duties don’t just end after the scene has been rendered safe, it continues throughout the legal process.”

Fire inspectors need to know the basics of being a good witness. The way a first responder presents their testimony in court can determine the value in their testimony. The member’s courtroom performance could affect their reputation or credibility of their testimony.

“Any incident that a first responder responds to, fire inspectors may have to testify on what they saw or did,” Benitez said.

Fire inspectors may share their testimony so they must understand the way a trial operates and the basic legal aspects of the legal process in order to fulfill their job completion said Johnson.

“This was their preparation to really go through a trial and it gave the members a higher level of training than a deposition,” Johnson said.

With this training, the Airmen received a more hands-on training getting to experience first-hand how a trial could go.

“There’s nothing like doing the real thing,” said Johnson. “Instead of talking about what it’s like or giving a briefing, it’s all about just doing it. I think that’s what encourages the learning process.”

Because of the training provided by legal, these fire inspector Airmen will help with fire investigations by sharing their observations and knowledge and, in turn, assist in bringing cases to a close.