Know Your Military

Face of Defense: Burning Passion

April 10, 2019

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monique Thurman is a firefighter instructor at Farrier Firefighting School in Norfolk, Va. It's her job to make sure that students understand that every sailor is a firefighter.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monique Thurman
Hometown: Crestview, Florida
Unit: Farrier Firefighting School
Stationed: Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia
Job Title: Instructor

A sailor poses for a photo holding an ax and a hammer while standing in front of a wall of hanging firefighter helmets and boots.
Firefighting Instructor
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monique Thurman, an instructor at the Farrier Firefighting School in Norfolk, Va., stands for a photo, Feb. 23, 2019.
Photo By: DOD video still
VIRIN: 190410-D-ZZ999-010H

What made you want to become a firefighting instructor and a damage controlman?

I don't mind talking to people and spreading knowledge, so being an instructor was the perfect fit for me. Teaching is something that I love to do. Honestly, it's an honor and privilege for me to teach older and new sailors about general and advanced shipboard firefighting. Not everyone gets a chance to be an instructor and teach people how to do it. Being an instructor has really opened my eyes to how important my job is. It really is a blessing.

A sailor dressed in firefighting gear communicates via radio aboard a ship.
Damage Control
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Monique Thurman communicates with damage control central during a general quarters drill aboard the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde, April 21, 2017.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brent Pyfrom
VIRIN: 170421-N-FM530-048C

Who has to attend firefighting classes?

From new sailors who just got out of boot camp, to that twenty-year master chief, even captains in the Navy; everyone has to go through the basic shipboard firefighting [course] at least once in their Navy career. Being an instructor can be challenging in this regard, because each sailor who comes here can be at a different level in their knowledge of damage control. However, what we want everyone to do that comes to the Farrier Firefighting School is to familiarize themselves with the processes. Every sailor is a firefighter and we want them to maintain that, especially on ships.

Sailors put out a fire during firefighting training.
Firefighting Training
Sailors participate in firefighting training at the Farrier Firefighting School at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Feb. 23, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus L. Stanley
VIRIN: 190226-D-MJ645-0104C

What is a typical day like being an instructor at Farrier Firefighting School?

Students come in at 5:30 in the morning and they won't leave until around 2:00 p.m. We begin in the classroom and teach the students the basics of damage control and the equipment. Next, we take the students on a tour of the compound, so they don't feel lost while they are here. Then, we get them suited up in firefighting gear and take them out to the field and do a quick walk through of the fires we are going to be dealing with and the different agents we'll use to put out the fires. It's important for the students to understand what types of fires there are so they can always be ready. After that, we take them into a live-training environment.

Sailor takes attendance at firefighting school.
Firefighting Instructor
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Monique Thurman, an instructor at the Farrier Firefighting School in Norfolk, Va., takes attendance before a firefighting class, Feb. 23, 2019.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Marcus L. Stanley
VIRIN: 190226-D-MJ645-0096C

What do you hope students gain from their training at the Farrier Firefighting School?

More knowledge. I hope each student learns about the damage control systems on their ship, and I hope that they understand that this is more than just a qualification. What they learn here will help them in the event of an actual casualty that they may have to get up and fight aboard their ships. We don't want sailors to panic. My hope is that they will know the steps and the process to put out fires and stop floods with confidence.  

Video by Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Marcos Alvarado, DOD