Firefighters from around the country who have attended hands-on training sessions at Firehouse Expo say they gain invaluable experience they are able to bring back to their departments.
During the second day of training on Wednesday in Odenton, Md., Firefighter Brad Gallotta from Menands Fire Company No. 1 in New York recalled a rescue he took part in on Feb. 11 that reminded him how important the training he took part in last summer was.
"We got called at 3 or 4 a.m.to an apartment fire and police on the scene confirmed that there was a victim trapped inside."
Police Officer Andy Cohen, who Gallotta said was once a fire chief, found the woman and began to drag her out of the fire.
Gallotta and his crew were helping with the rescue when he looked at his officer, Lt. David Ognan, and the same time they both said "Baltimore."
They both attended hands-on training sessions at Expo in 2010 and a lot of what they learned stuck with them.
They were able to clear the access way so that the rescue could be completed.
Once to safety, Cohen began to perform CPR on the woman. She suffered burns to 70 percent of her body but survived.
Gallotta said that after that he knew he'd be back.
"It's a great opportunity because you get to train with other people," he said. "You get comfortable always working with your own guys."
On Tuesday he was paired up with three other guys he had never met before and he said they instantly gelled during their training exercise.
"It was just like, click, click, click," he said.
Other firefighters agree that opportunities the training sessions offered are unlike those they would be able to take part in back home.
Firefighter J. Hall from the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department in Virginia said this was his first year, but the skills he learned made the financial commitment to attend the sessions well worth it.
"When you're at your station, you're kind of limited to resources," he said. "It's nice when you can have an abandoned building where you can go in and actually cut the roof and exit and enter with a ladder."
Instructor John Simpson from the Osceola County Fire Department in Florida talked about why the sessions are so important to firefighters from smaller departments.
"A lot of people who come don't get a lot of fires and don't get the experience that will help them in later days," he said. "Some of these techniques are just starting to get passed around the country and hopefully it will help them be safer and better on the fireground."