Highlights of Citizens Firefighter Academy – Week 5

This week we had issues with the weather and changed the schedule.  I called Fire Station No. 3 and one of the firefighters indicated we would meet at Fire Station No. 2.  Instead of  Hose/Hose Evolutions and Driving a Fire Truck we would be doing Search & Rescue and Vehicle Extrication.

Search and Rescue

Firefighter Academy IR CameraWe first suited up in our bunker gear and split up in two groups.  My group did Search and Rescue first.   Our Search and Rescue mission was to find one of the firefighters in their living quarters of the fire station while in the dark. One of the biggest issues that firefighters face while combating interior structural fires is impaired vision.  With the fire burning it”s difficult to see through the thick smoke, no lights with the power off,  and complete darkness. One of the tools that firefighters use is an Infra-Red (IR) thermography camera.  The camera measures temperature difference and heat generated on the  camera screen in real time allowing the firefighter to identify people.

One of theFirefighters Academy firefighters led us through the doors of the fire station.  We  walked into the building with all the lights out…pitch black. He told us some of the pass and feel procedures during search and rescue and then turned on the IR camera. As we slowly walked through the living quarters we felt around and looked under beds. Our journey was quite short as we found our down firefighter in the dark laying on bed watching TV.

Hollywood does no justice to the fire service… its not lights, camera, action. Its more like, I can”t see and how can we make this work in the online casino darkness.

Vehicle Extrication

Firefighter Academy Vehicle ExtricationVehicle Extrication is the safe removal of vehicle parts around an accident victim when conventional methods are not possible.  A totaled car was donated to the Colony Fire Department.  We would be breaking windows and ripping doors off the car simulating rescue operations during vehicle extrication.  The basic vehicle extrication operations consist  of:

  1. Isolating the accident scene
  2. Assess the patients condition
  3. Stabilize the vehicle
  4. Provide an entryway for the first responder or EMT/Paramedic to attend the patient and provide protective blankets to shield the patient from  glass or debris
  5. Extricate the vehicle parts
  6. Remove the patient and transport for medical care
Each of us were given a chance to use a glass break/saw tool on the front and rear windshields. The tool has a carbide tip and saw, allowing to cut through glass.  Normally the fire department will also provide a protective adhesive to minimize glass from shattering onto the patient.
Firefighter Academy Jaws of LifeAnother common tool is the spreader also known as the “Jaws of Life” and patented by Hurst Performance Inc.  The spreaders are used to remove doors, roofs, and any other car parts.  The spreader uses a portable gas-fired motor with a hydraulic oil system.  The size of the spreader and motor vary.  The units are extremely heavy. Each of us had the opportunity to cut door hinges and wire harnessing, eventually removing the doors.  Removal time will vary as all cars are designed different.  One of the new challenges are electric cars; as the electrical power system must be shut-down before firefighters can start extrication.  Failure to shut down the electrical power could potentially electrocute the firefighter.   More reasons to appreciate the fire service.
Please visit next week as we practice with Fire Hose and drive a Fire Truck.   As always if you have any comments or questions please share.  Thanks for stopping by.
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