Most of us learn that we should stop, drop and roll if our clothing catches fire. Firefighters are taught that in a fire they need to communicate, cooperate and stick together.
In a training exercise on Thursday, two firefighters crawled in search of an “injured” firefighter. Their eyes were covered with wax paper to simulate having smoke-clouded vision.
Once they found their colleague, they rotated his air pack to the side and dragged him out of the room to safety.
More than a dozen off-duty Rockland firefighters took part in the drill, which was part of a four-session training program that also includes classroom study and a practice climb out of a second-story window.
“It reintroduces many of the basic techniques we learn in recruit school,” said Paul Medeiros, a Hyannis firefighter and lead instructor from the Barnstable County Fire Training Academy. “Regrettably, a lot of the stuff they’re learning is based on actual fatalities.”
The training will be paid for with a $135,000 federal grant obtained by the Rockland Firefighters Union. It is the third federal grant the union has secured since 2003.
The grant money also will be used to equip the firefighters with wire cutters, knives and screwdrivers, all things they might need if trapped in a tight, burning space, Deputy Fire Chief William Ferguson said.
“The whole point is to get him out of the environment, get him out of the fire,” Ferguson said.
Thursday’s drill was held at the construction site for the Residences at Emerson Shoe, a new apartment complex being built to replace the old Codman Building.
After making arrangements with building owner Fred Kiley of the Heritage Companies, the firefighters have been practicing rescue techniques at the old factory.
“It’s a great facility to use because it’s similar to a lot of environments we’d find ourselves in,” said Firefighter Marc Oshry, who helped write the grant application. “These rooms could be anywhere.”
The sessions will wrap up on Cape Cod next week, when the firefighters will be trained to save a fallen firefighter trapped in a smoke-filled building.
“Not only is it a huge training, it’s a huge team-building thing for us,” Firefighter Charlie Williams said.
Reach Andrew Lightman at firstname.lastname@example.org.