New firefighters train at “live burn”

New firefighters train at “live burn”

6 February 2008

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USA — Local fire departments are being proactive with their training so they’re prepared for potential fires.  It took firefighters nearly two days to extinguish a large grass fire in Comanche County last Friday, and with overgrown grass and shrubbery from last summer’s rain, firefighters have been continuing their training in the middle of the fire season.

New recruits from Lawton, Duncan, Chickasha, and Walters learned using live burns at the Great Plains Technology Center.  They say there’s nothing like the real thing, especially when it comes to being prepared.

Jared Williams, a training officer for the Lawton Fire Department says the live burns present firefighters with the different problems and issues that can happen when they have to fight a fire in an emergency.  Williams says it truly is a “trial by fire.”  “If we don’t subject them to a fire, we don’t know how they will react in the field,” he says.

Dagan Collins, one of six rookies in this training session was surprised at how thick the smoke can become.  “Sometimes you’re fighting a fire you can’t see,” he said. 

Firefighters say they must be proactive so their team is ready to serve citizens who need their help.  When firefighters go through the academy, they train in several ways.  “We do search and rescue, we go over equipment for stuff that will protect them.  Then, also, we have our live burn training – we do structure fires, car fires, and dumpster fires,” says Williams.

Williams says there are certain requirements new firefighters must meet, and he was concerned with whether the training would happen with a state burn ban in effect.  “This training is critical, right now,” he says.  “With all the grass fires and everything going on recently, this is a crucial part of our job – to be ready.”

So, Williams says they called the Governor’s office and they allowed this training to be exempt from the burn ban, not only in Lawton but all of Comanche County.  Williams says this is a very good thing.  “For firefighters you can’t replicate training without a live fire.”

Dagan Collins still has a few weeks left of training.  “We are actively training and getting prepared for this stuff,” he says.  “We’re ready to go.” 

Lawton firefighters say they try to get as many area instructors and off-duty firefighters as possible to attend training classes and drills. Firefighters from Duncan, Chickasha, and Walters all trained with Lawton firefighters in this exercise.

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