Eight are members of the Lafayette Fire Department – Joe Cauthorne, Tom Dallas, Steve Delaquila, Cory Dycus, Tracy Hawkins, Eric Holland, Nathan Strack and Zachary White. One is from Red Boiling Springs Fire Dept. – Stevie Newberry and one is from Westmoreland Fire Dept. – Steve Maher.
Some of these men are already certified in CPR, vehicle and/or school bus extrication, search and rescue or emergency medical 1st Responders.
The road to Firefighter Level 1 involves the taking of a 64 hour course of instruction which includes detail training on the nature and origin of fire, firefighter safety and health, building construction, firefighter personal protection equipment, use of SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus and full face mask, much like a scuba divers air tank system) which lets them breathe cool clean air in dense smoke or hazardous environments, rope and knots, rescue and extrication, forcible entry, water supplies, fire hose/streams and control, protecting fire scene evidence, fire prevention, pre-hospital medical response, communications and a host of other firefighting topics.
Major emphasis is on the use of SCBA and operations on the fire ground and within burning structures. Virtually no inside firefighting is done these days without SCBA and it is among the most important of the protective gear firefighters use next to turn out gear.
The future firefighters have to be able to put on their protective turn-out gear (the heavy leather pants, boots, coats, hoods and helmet) in under 1 minute and after that put on the SCBA air pack and face mask within another minute and be breathing air and ready to fight fire.
The rookies recently spent a full day donning and doffing (putting on and taking off) their SCBA gear and performing mock rescues inside the old house which sits behind the Lafayette Fire Station. The firefighters in training were blindfolded and required to enter the house on hands and knees, in two man teams carrying a charged hose line and search for victims.
They also had to crawl thru 16” openings which required them to remove the SCBA gear and pass it thru the opening first while maintaining the mask on and then crawl thru them selves and put the air pack back on and then exit the house thru a window….all while blindfolded and in near 100 degree temperatures.
Their school continues thru August with more practical exercises and culminates with a Live Burn at the Tennessee Fire and Codes Academy in Bell Buckle, Tennessee in November.
At the Live Burn training at the academy they will execute final performance exercises using their skills and equipment in a live fire environment in order to be ready to test for the Firefighter level 1 certification.
Achieving FF1 certification will not be the end of their training….it is the beginning of a journey…. for there are many, many other skills needed to safely fight fire and save lives …..there will be many other training sessions and difficult schools to come.
These men are to be commended for their commitment and willingness to place themselves in harms way to protect the lives and property of the citizens of their respective counties.