Photo Information

Air Station firefighter and emergency medical technician James Dotelle takes part in a training exercise as the incident commander at the Structural Fire Depart¬ment, April 18.

Photo by Pfc. John Wilkes

Firefighters train in tight places

26 Apr 2012 | Lance Cpl. Timothy Norris

Thirty firefighters from the Air Station Structural Fire Department and the surrounding area became certified to perform con­fined space rescues after a five-day–long course on the Air Station last week.

South Carolina Fire Academy provided the training and simulation equipment for the fire­fighters as part of their annual requirement to be­come confined space entry and rescue certified.

“It’s very helpful,” said Darran Vaughn, Air Sta­tion Fire Department as­sistant fire chief. “You have to have this training to make an entry into any confined space and make a rescue.

“[The ability to go into tight spaces] is critical to our mission on base. You can be called out at any time to make a confined space rescue.”

Visibility, fire, panick­ing victims, claustropho­bia and harmful chemicals and gases are the variables playing against a close quarters rescue.

 “This training gives my firefighters a level of con­fidence in the job they have to perform,” Vaughn said. “By doing this training it gives them an understand­ing of ventilation, rigging, entry and teamwork for a confined space rescue.”

South Carolina Fire Academy instructors taught the laws and regulations the firefighters needed to know on the first two days of training. The rest of the course consisted of practi­cal application sessions of methods and procedures for ventilation, ropes and knots, air monitoring and rescue rigging.

One theme echoed throughout every exer­cise— safety, said Bill Cantrell, South Carolina Fire Academy technical rescue instructor. “We go back to the National Fire Protection Association for technical rescue [stan­dards].

“We follow these stan­dards as close as possible,” Cantrell continued. “As rescuers, we want to go home to our families too.”

The course is designed to make every rescue sce­nario as safe and fast for the victims and rescuers as possible.

Confined space rescue is only one of the many safety certifications for which a firefighter can train. Many fire fighting and rescue skills must be reviewed and recertified every year.

“My favorite part [of the training] is the cama­raderie,” Huber said. “It’s always great to meet new people from different plac­es and working together developing teamwork.”

 Similar sentiments were shared by the in­structors.

“I love to see that they have learned something they can take back to their departments and use to train someone else,” added Cantrell. “This is what we love to do. We are focused on this 100 percent.”