Live Fire Training as Dangerous as the Real Thing
There were billows of smoke from behind the Pugwash Fire Department today, but it was all under control.
Cumberland County firefighters descended on Pugwash for ‘live fire’ training as the last component in Level One training that has taken over two years to complete.
A dozen volunteer trainees, their instructors, and watchful safety leaders were on hand for the heavyweight events in the firefighters’ program — interior and motor vehicle fires.
Modified shipping containers are on site to replicate conditions in a house fire, while the training event also burned two junked cars to evaluate the skills of the newly trained.
The county firefighters’ Level One training is a program recognized only in Cumberland that has followed an on-again-off-again schedule for nearly twenty-four months.
The program involves extensive study and practice on all aspects of firefighting. Trainees must pass numerous tests and then demonstrate their skills in simulated circumstances.
Successful candidates are certified as front-line firefighters, equipped to enter what they call the “Hot Zone” of real fire situations. Only a handful of candidates completed the most recent course which was fraught with scheduling changes and difficulties, then faced the limitations of COVID-19 public health regulations.
Today’s all day event saw the trainees entering the blazing containers during the morning session, then dealing with two car fires in the afternoon.
What is clear from the photos and videos is the importance of teamwork. Not only does that offer strength in the fire attack, but it is also a safety measure as the teams look out for each other as they face the very real dangers.
Modern fires have introduced numerous new dangers with the hazards of synthetic materials in today’s building supplies which present a number of chemical off-gases, the dangers from which are only partially known. The fire service continues to find growing instances of cancer and breathing disorders as a result of the compounds revealed when burned.
Modern day vehicle fires have also introduced new dangers for the volunteers who respond to extinguish them. Again, new chemical compounds present as yet unknown dangers, while airbags and gas filled pistons that hold hoods open have become new threats. The advent of hybrid and electric vehicles also pose large threats as approaching and dealing with burning battery systems and electric circuits raise new concerns.
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