Local volunteers endure long day of fire fighting training
By Malin Dartnell
It’s not easy to be a hero, especially the type of hero that must navigate burning buildings, smoke and collapsing ceilings to save others. Firefighters must endure months of intensive training both in the classroom and on the training ground before becoming certified. For two and a half months this summer, Fire Chief Gene Porter his assistant David Harper will be teaching 25 men the art of being a firefighter.
This course, Module One, will give the men their first certification. It is required in order to become a volunteer firefighter and is the first step to becoming a career firefighter. Every Tuesday and Thursday nights, and many Saturday mornings, they learn about everything from fire behavior, CPR, search-and-rescue and “quick dress” to knot-tying and teamwork.
Last Saturday, the firefighters-in-training ventured out to the training ground for the first time, where they practiced a blind search and rescue. After practicing a quick dress, in which they had to fully equip in under two minutes, they lined up, were blindfolded and ventured, one by one, into the burn building, where they had to do a “left-handed search.” This consisted of crawling along the floor (still wearing almost 75 pounds of gear), keeping one hand on the wall at all times, until they reached a small tunnel called a “confined space simulator,” which they had to navigate through.
Later that day, the left-handed search was lengthened, as an “attic simulator” was added to the journey.
The confined space simulator is a small tunnel of sorts, built out of wood, with slits in the top where objects can be dropped in to simulate a collapse. The attic simulator mimics a narrow, angled attic where the ceiling meets the floor to create a triangle.
The firefighters have to crawl across exposed beams, which proved to be rather challenging in the small space.
The training will continue to increase in difficulty throughout the summer, until they are actually lighting fires in the burn building for the trainees to work in.
The training attempts to come as close to a realistic emergency situation as possible, and requires incredible perseverance and dedication. The trainees must wake up early to go to the training ground where there is little relief from the sun. Donning 75 pounds of equipment and receiving a punishment of push-ups with every misdeed does add to their enjoyment. After completing the course, the firefighters will continue their training every year.
“We are extremely glad to have this type of commitment,” Porter said, about the class, which is one of the largest classes they’ve recently taught.