For firefighters, responding to calls in tunnels can be deadly

For firefighters, responding to calls in tunnels can be deadly

For firefighters, responding to calls in tunnels can be deadly

The Newhall Pass tunnel on California’s Interstate 5 was the recent location of major accident involving nine trucks, The Associated Press reported. This incident, which occurred about 25 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, left one driver pinned for three hours before firefighters could reach him.While there were no fatalities and only a minor diesel spill, things could have gone much worse given the crash’s dangerous location inside the tunnel. In fact, it would not be the first time for this particular bypass tunnel, as three people died there during a fiery crash that took place five years ago.

The truth is, with so many tunnels spread out across the U.S. and drivers traveling at such high speeds in automobiles filled with flammable fuel, there is always the chance that accidents will occur and firefighters will have to respond, making the need for firefighter training of the utmost importance.

Less space, more risk
While firefighters must treat every call as seriously as they did the last, blazes that have broken out inside of tunnels are especially dangerous. This is due to the fact that unlike in a house fire, a tunnel’s walls can reflect heat and raise temperatures inside this space to more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, The Seattle Times reported. When it comes time for rescue workers to douse the blaze, they must be careful to aim for the base of the flames. If they fail to do so, any water they spray could turn to steam, which translates to even less visibility.

Firefighters head to Seattle to gain firsthand experience
According to the news source, firefighters from Seattle and Grays Harbor County, Washington, as well as Ventura County, California, and New York City have all converged on an unused nuclear power plant pipe at Satsop Business Park in Elma, Washington, for firefighter training drills in tunnel settings.

Firefighters training in the abandoned tunnel are being pushed to their limits in temperatures as high as 700 degrees Fahrenheit. To date, they have already tested four-hour breathing gear, which allows them to breathe filtered air instead of relying on oxygen tanks, and dragged bundles that were meant to represent victims to safety.

“The firefighters are getting beat up before they get to the fire,” Seattle Battalion Chief Scott Yurczyk told the news source.

Despite whatever hardships firefighters endure during training sessions, they surely see the value in them if it means one more life can be saved.

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