FHExpo17: Firefighter Safety is Focus of Hand-on Training

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FHExpo17: Firefighter Safety is Focus of Hand-on Training

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Photo credit: Glen E. Ellman/Firehouse
Photo credit: Glen E. Ellman/Firehouse
Photo credit: Glen E. Ellman/Firehouse
Photo credit: Glen E. Ellman/Firehouse
Photo credit: Glen E. Ellman/Firehouse

Firefighters from across the nation gathered in Murfreesboro, TN, to learn the latest tactics as part of Firehouse Expo 2017.

Scenarios involving firefighter rescues with rapid intervention teams to transitional firefighting were just some of the lessons learned at today’s hands on training.

“I think it’s great that Firehouse has brought people together from all over the country to get everybody on the same page,” said Murfreesboro Fire Capt. Terry Smith who served as the incident commander for the scenarios. “I am originally from the Carolinas and fire burns the same there as it does in Tennessee it does in Georgia as it does everywhere. I just makes sense to have everyone come together to learn how to fight fire and to keep everyone safe and able to go home.”

In an array of garden style, two-story apartment buildings slated for demolition, firefighters learned how to cut steel to for forcible entry, how to rescue one of their own from a second floor with aggressive RIT tactics.

“This is a place where East Coast guys work with West Coast guys and we learn what works best,” said Los Angeles County, CA, Fire Capt. Chad Christensen, one of the lead instructors. He was teaching transitional firefighting which advocates putting first water on a fire from the outside before going inside for full extinguishment.

Firefighter also learned about door control and fire flows during the day-long hands on training program.

“As firefighters, we have an obligation to save lives and put out fires the best way we know how,” Christensen said. “It’s not about what we want to do, it’s what the public expects of us.”

Christensen said firefighters want to get inside to do an aggressive interior attack on fires, but that may not be the only way to fight fire.

Through live fire training, Christensen and his team where able to show the attendees what happens when water is put on a fire through an open window.

Simulating a room and content fire on the second floor, one that had grown to blowing out the glass window, water from a handline was shot at an angle tight to the building up through the window and on to the ceiling. The effect was like that of a sprinkler system, reducing the temperature in the room and significantly and quelling the open flame.

“Did the fire go out, no,” the instructor said. “It will come right back up again, but it will allow us to go in and put it out.”

Smith said it was a tactic he used back in 1985 when he was first hired as a career firefighter. It worked then and it works now. He added that by putting first water on the fire, room temperatures can be reduced from more than a 1,000 degrees to 200 to 300 degrees, making the fire much more tenable and helping potential victims from further thermal assault by flames.

In the transitional firefighting tactic course, attendees went straight into the fire room to fully extinguish the fire, hence the term transitional – going from the outside to the inside.

Christensen said as firefighters better understand the firefighting behavior and techniques, the better able they are to do their jobs.

He said when he became a career firefighter 19 years ago, he said he was taught to not flow water until he could see the fire.

“Our end goal is to save lives and property,” Christensen said, adding firefighters have an obligation to the public they serve to use the best tactics possible and keep learning new ones to improve the service provided.

Smith, the incident commander, said he appreciates Firehouse for providing the world-class training through Firehouse Expo. He said it helps firefighters across the country to more effectively do their jobs and to do so safely.

“We have about 100 firefighter deaths every year,” Smith said. “Whatever we can do to help reduce that just makes sense.”

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