USAF FIREFIGHTER BADGE
Although Air Force regulations designate this insignia as a "Firefighter" badge, it is not without reason that the title of the Air Force Specialty Code 3E7X1 it represents is called Fire Protection rather than Firefighting. Simply put, the best way to minimize the threats posed by fires is to take every step possible to prevent them from happening in the first place. And that explains why, counter to what you might expect, controlling and extinguishing fires is third on the list of duties for Fire Protection specialists as listed in the Air Force Enlisted Classification Direction. That doesn’t mean it’s a less-important responsibility; it’s merely a reminder that when it comes to fires—particularly in military settings, where fuel and munitions are abundant and powerful—the old adage about the consequences of failing to plan ring incredibly true.
In addition to delivering extensive fire-protection guidance aimed at awareness and prevention, Fire Protection specialists are tasked with the organization, planning, and direction of all fire-protection activities, many designed to ensure optimal preparation. When developing response plans, they coordinate with any local firefighting authorities to maximize response efforts. By inspecting firefighting vehicles and equipment and performing appropriate maintenance, they ensure that all available resources can be brought to bear should a fire event take place. They’re also trained in how to respond to the release of hazardous materials, a distinct threat at military facilities (Force Protection specialists also provide first responder assistance).
Airmen seeking to serve in this specialty must meet several physical requirements, which include qualifying under the National Fire Protection Associations’ physical standards and no evidence of suffering from acrophobia (fear of heights), claustrophobia, or pyrophobia. Additionally, they must hold a valid driver’s license and pass a NACLC (National Agency Check with Law and Credit). Those accepted will spend nine-plus weeks in technical training at Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas following Basic Training.
The Fire Protection Duty Shield features three elements in the “scramble,” or center shield: a bugle, a fireman’s helmet, and an ax. Because this is a Duty Shield, it is not issued in degrees like occupational badges, but instead comes in different designs and coloration based upon rank. It can only be worn when the specialist is conducting Fire Protection duties, and then it is worn on the left breast pocket. Because AFSC 3E7X1 falls under the Civil Engineering Career Field, all Fire Protection specialists wear the Civil Engineer occupational badge.