From Peterborough This Week--Peterborough Ontario
City firefighters were sent back to the classroom this year to learn how to survive.
Inside the walls of vacant King Edward School on Aylmer Street, a number of realistic scenarios were built inside classrooms to put firefighters through extremely rigorous testing with the emphasis on survival.
Dave Gillespie, chief training officer with the department, says they received permission from the YMCA to use the building after the organization purchased the property to build a new facility.
He and firefighter Brian Robinson collected training information from across the country and the United States before retrofitting rooms inside the old school. He adds firefighters added their own innovative ideas to make the training as realistic as possible.
Scenarios were created to replicate a situation that would put firefighters at risk to teach them different ways of not only saving themselves but their colleagues.
"This is the most important training we've done in five years," says Mr. Gillespie.
"It's more than putting out fires. It's about us saving ourselves so we can help people."
Captain Robert Lloyd instructed some of the training lessons. He says firefighters gained vital experience and learned survival techniques they can use when faced with a real situation.
Firefighter Tim Sutton says it was useful because no matter what firefighters know, it's useless unless they can save themselves.
"It opened our eyes to a different way of thinking," says Firefighter Sutton.
Many fire departments use vacant buildings for training purposes but Mr. Gillespie believes the Peterborough crew is the first to actually convert separate rooms into different training scenarios. Local firefighters and approximately 50 from other departments have trained in King Edward School this year.
"This is an idea from our department and instructors," says Mr. Gillespie.
He says the department kept the training quiet because of the controversy surrounding the school. It was purchased by the YMCA and will be destroyed to make way for a new facility.
One room inside the building was transformed to resemble a building collapse. Rubble was brought in from the Beer Store renovation on Lansdowne Street West and wires were hung from the ceiling. Firefighters played out different scenarios inside the room to learn how to help someone if they are trapped.
Another room was outfitted with hanging wires to entangle firefighters as they crawled through looking for victims. Other rooms were retrofitted to simulate a three-bedroom apartment complete with furniture and an obstacle maze. The maze impressed Captain Lloyd the most. He says it could be changed to make it more challenging and different every time a firefighter went through it. Debris and other obstacles were scattered about, forcing firefighters to figure out ways to get through. In all scenarios, they were blindfolded to mimic a smoke-filled building.
Another room was used to teach firefighters how to escape a burning room. Firefighters were told to break through drywall and squeeze through studs in the wall that was constructed.
Perhaps the most interesting training room was called the Denver Drill. Mr. Gillespie says, in 1992, a firefighter was separated from his crew in Denver and was trapped in a basement room. Firefighters couldn't get the man out and he died even though they could see him. The room was a replica of that situation.
"Unfortunately, most of the drills we are doing are a result of people dying," says Mr. Gillespie.
The fire department was to clear out their training equipment inside the school by the end of this week. That will leave the department without a similar training site for now. Mr. Gillespie says all material used to build the scenarios will be stored until another vacant building can be found.
"I have a couple of leads on other buildings but nothing is firm," he adds.
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07-30-2005, 03:38 PM #1
- Join Date
- Sep 2002
School Building Used For Training
08-21-2005, 05:32 PM #2
- Join Date
- Jan 2005
- Austin, TEXAS
this is a great idea, when i was in the academy we used an old school (like 1920s old school) for alot of training, it had so much room to do every scenario possible. large buildings like this are great for RIT training!
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