The 2001st Engineer Aviation Fire Fighting Platoon was activated 12 May 1943 at Bradley Field, Connecticut, with a strength of one officer and twenty-eight enlisted men. On 27 September 1943 this unit boarded a ship at New York, arriving at Liverpool, England on 13 October, entraining for Grafton Underwood the same day. A fire department already functioning on the field was relieved at that time and 2nd Lieutenant Harold L. Bates was detailed as Station Fire Marshal. On 23 March 1944 the organization at Grafton Underwood became the 2023rd Engineer Aviation Fire Fighting Platoon.
The Engineer Fire FIghting Platoons were different from the existing army engineer firefighting platoons since they had specialized equipment for fighting aviation fires and crash rescue. The EAFFP was an early formation trained for aviation firefighting duties.
Once in theater, the strength dropped as EAFFPs were split up to support the build-up of forces. After arrival in England, the EAFFP trained with the RAF on specific equipment often used by early EAFFPs in England. The platoon operated a mixed collection of American-designed equipment and RAF-furnished firefighting equipment. As the war progressed, American equipment replaced more and more of the RAF-provided items. The EAFFP was assigned for administration to the 443rd Sub Depot at Grafton Underwood but group headquarters exercised indirect daily control. Initially there were 29 total personnel assigned to the EAFFP including one commissioned officer and 28 enlisted men, but that dropped to about half that number with the redesignation from 2001st to 2023rd.
The EAFFP was the station fire department. The platoon's primary mission was firefighting and crash rescue. Firefighting was done by high pressure water mist and newly developed foam. Rescue personnel wore asbestos flame retardant suits. Wearing these suits allowed rescue personnel approximately four minutes to rescue victims from a fire. Using newly developed crash equipment, the EAFFP was on hand to act as the first responders to aircraft crashes.
The platoon was also charged with fighting fires on the base domestic and technical sites. When a USAAF aircraft crashed, firefighting platoons were dispatched from nearby bases. EAFFPs were called out to assist British fire fighters with fires in the local surrounding areas. Fires on base were numerous but mostly small. EAFFPs were alerted by the control tower and in position some time before the estimated arrival time and stayed on call and in position until well after the station's aircraft returned. The EAFFP was on constant duty as the base's fire department.