In a fire, if you can’t breath, you can’t survive. That’s where the Marquette City Fire Department’s ventilation training comes in. Hours of practical instruction allows firefighters to act quickly in the heat of the moment.
Cutting holes in the roof of a burning structure might seem tedious, but it helps remove life-threatening smoke and heat that’s trapped inside.
“Those in and of themselves are flammable, the gases and the smoke byproduct, so it’s another fuel source in the house, and plus, the heat on the interior crews is very tough on them,” Captain Dean Mallos of the Marquette Fire Department Captain Dean Mallos said. “By alleviating that by ventilation, we can keep the fire from spreading horizontally inside, and also creating a flashover condition inside the house.”
Firefighters work with their instructors, going over specific techniques and hazards before getting the hands-on experience needed to implement a ground-level mockup of a burning roof.
“It’s just allowing us to get familiar with the roof construction, how to cut through a roof, some things we’ve got to watch out for, and just make it second hand so when we do get called out at either 2:30, 3:30 in the morning, we’re ready to go,” Firefighter Dustin Hennessy said.
“Practicing and training on a regular basis makes us operate more safely on the fire ground, of course, and then more efficient also,” Mallos said.
Step two of the training process took the troops off the roof and into the chaos of a car crash, where someone is trapped inside.
It’s called extrication training and it can be a little tricky. The process involves removing a person from their vehicle after it’s been smashed shut in an accident. Crushed cars can be very unsteady, and stabilizing the vehicle to prevent further injuries is one of the most important parts.
“Well our main focus is the patient of course, and their safety,” Marquette Fire Department Lieutenant John Koshorek said. “The thing with stabilization is we don’t want the vehicle to move any more than it already has. By stabilizing, we keep the vehicle in tact, the other thing is with the new vehicles and the way they’re constructed, when we start cutting, we actually can weaken the integrity of the vehicle, so stabilization has become more and more important to us.”
Firefighters work in well choreographed teams of six. They use tools like spreaders, hydraulic cutters, and air chisels to cut into the body of the car, where a life can be saved. Before these modern techniques, an extrication could take up to 30 minutes.
“With the tools and the coordination and the training, we can actually cut that 30 minutes down to 8 to 11 minutes to get somebody out of a vehicle,” Korshorek said.
Firefighters go through training exercises like these on a regular basis. Although practice doesn’t necessarily make perfect, it does help them to not only rescue those in need, but to keep themselves safe as well.