Fairview FR Participates in Live Fire Training
Fairview Fire Rescue Captain Nathan White, Firefighter Austin Smotherman and Firefighter David Feig participated in live fire training with Allen FD on Mar. 6, at Collin College. (Additional Fairview FR crew members attended training at different times during that week.)
Captain White has been a firefighter for over 12 years, 11 of those have been with Fairview. He describes the multi-faceted benefits gleaned through this type of training, “Anytime you can handle the ladder truck, it is beneficial. It helps build muscle memory for the time when you need it in real life. It gives you the opportunity to make mistakes in the training ground, not on a fire ground.” He said it was a good opportunity to reiterate the importance of the basics with recently hired Firefighter Feig and make sure that everything was familiar to him.
Firefighter Feig has been a volunteer firefighter for three years. He was hired by Fairview FR four months ago; this is his first paid firefighter position. Feig said he chose to be a firefighter because, “My grandfather was a firefighter and I enjoy helping people in my community.” Regarding the value of this training, he said, “This training gives me the opportunity to follow steps on how things should be done. I can step back before I do something and look at the bigger picture. I can do all of this in a safe environment without anyone’s property being in danger.” Working well with a team, paying attention to instructions and following directions from the officers were also added advantages.
Firefighter Smotherman has been a firefighter for five years and with Fairview FR for two years. He said, “By going through this type of training, I was reminded to not forget the basics of fire ground tactics. Keep it simple; don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.” He said that the opportunity to use equipment and tactics they don’t use every day is a benefit of this training as well as working with another agency, “It helps us build teamwork with the Allen agency.”
Crew members used the Fairview FR ladder truck during training. Captain White said, “Using the ladder truck at any fire scene enhances our capabilities. It is a lot safer to perform a rescue using this ladder because it is sturdier than a ground ladder. Plus, you don’t lose any personnel like you do when using a ground ladder because one person has to hold the ground ladder.”
During this training, White, Smotherman and Feig participated on two live fire scenarios. Their first assignment was fire attack and their second assignment was ventilation. The scenarios were based on a hotel/motel fire. This scenario required firefighters to think about life safety concerns of a large occupancy building as well as associated hazards. Firefighters maneuvered hose lines in close quarters, set up ladders for secondary escape routes, communicated with on scene units and manipulated a ventilation prop. During ventilation training, they brought a second ladder up to the roof in order to distribute their weight on the roof. Cutting ventilation allows heat, gas and smoke out of the building to create better visibility for firefighters inside the building.
Fairview Fire Chief Jeff Bell stresses why this training is valuable, “In high stress incidents, the body reverts back to training. If you have not trained, you will not be ready. It teaches people how to maneuver in this type of situation, especially those who don’t see fires all the time. When someone calls 911, it’s the worst time maybe of their life. They want someone to show up who knows what they are doing and can handle the issue. This training gives firefighters confidence that they are doing their jobs correctly.”
Chief Bell said that they are required by the Texas Commission of Fire Protection to have 20 hours of training a year. He added, “We must show every year that this has happened. We far exceed this requirement and are typically around 10 – 20 hours a month.” An additional training motivator is the ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating. Fairview FR is currently at a rating of two on a scale of 1 – 10, one being the highest. In addition to live fire training, Fairview FR undergoes hazardous material training, EMS training, extraction training, forcible entry training and others.
This training was paid for by the Collin County Excellence Fund. All agencies within Collin County are eligible to use this facility for training. This particular training was sponsored by Allen FD. Chief Bell explained that sometimes Fairview FR trains independently and sometimes they partner with other agencies.