Another great week to report at the Citizens Firefighter Academy. This week suited up and put our new firefighting skills to the test. We’d be suiting up in full bunker gear and attack both structure and car fires manually with fire hose. It was family night, and we were invited to bring our families to watch us battle fire. The fire exercises would be conducted at Collin County Community College in McKinney,Texas. The College has a fire science program and we’d be using their facilities for the exercises. The class started off with filling out paperwork and Asst. Chief McMurphy giving us a briefing of the exercises. The first part of the exercise would start with structure fires and second part would be car fires. The chief drew a layout of the room for the structure fire and gave us a plan of attack. The structure fire would use natural gas and the car fire would use propane. The gas systems would be controlled remotely by firefighters and could be shut off if required. Before suiting up we took a brief tour of the areas where the exercises would be conducted. The chief asked if we had any other questions and off we went.
We were grouped into pairs of two. We suited up in our bunker gear along with air tanks. The chief would be directing us as we conducted our exercise. We volunteered as the first group for the structure fire. We’d first attack fire at the ceiling level in a hallway and then enter an adjacent room that would simulate a bed catching on fire. My partner would be the front man controlling the hose and I would be standing behind support. Chief McMurphy would be directing us where to aim the hose and help if needed. We got into position, the hose was charged, and told the chief we were ready to go. The hallway was pitch black… all of a sudden instant fire at the ceiling level. Damn, you could feel the heat quickly hit your body… the nozzle was turned on and off to the races we went. The water was aimed at the ceiling level, my partner had to move the hose back and forth, he did this for several minutes and the fire was out we would then move to the adjacent room and attack the bed fire. The chief instructed us to spray and hit the back wall in a circular motion with water next to the bed as there was a measuring device that would calculate the amount of water sprayed onto the fire. Round and round with the water hose we sprayed the back wall, this was getting very tiring spraying the fully charged hose, we did this for several minutes and the fire was out. We then switched out going through the same exercise, I would take the lead and man the hose. This was twice as hard, as it takes great strength and energy to move the pressurized hose in the circular sweeping motion.
I couldn’t imagine doing this for more than ten minutes without taking frequent breaks. The heat from the fire, weight of the bunker gear, and physical demands are just too taxing on the body. The chiefs were great in helping us out during this exercise. Came out sweating profusely and felt extremely out of shape. I would need to spend lot of time in the gym if I ever wanted to become a firefighter. After we finished our exercise the next group came in and we took a long break to get hydrated and prepare for the car fire.
After the entire class got a chance to participate in the structure fire our next challenge would be to be combatting a car fire. This exercise was held out in the open with several of us manning the hose a remote distance from the vehicle. This was more of the same sweeping motion and using our physical ability to combat the fire. By the time the exercises were complete it was dark.
Another great class. This would be the last day of practical training. The next class would be graduation at Station No. 3. Please visit next week as I will have a summary of the class and graduation.