Firefighters hit the ice for rescue training

 Firefighters hit the ice for rescue training

Firefighters hit the ice for rescue training

When people think of firefighters, images of brave professionals racing into burning buildings and persevering through high temperatures may cross their minds. While this is certainly true of firefighters, their services are sometimes needed in very frigid locations as well, such as icy bodies of water.

For this reason, it is not uncommon to see rescue workers participating in firefighter rescue training on icy ponds and lakes during the winter, as they never know when they will need to respond to a call at one of these locations. Here are two examples of how firefighters are preparing for these scenarios:

Iowa firefighters learn about the dangers of hypothermia
If parts of a pond or lake have iced over, it is likely the water below is quite cold. Should anybody accidentally fall into frigid water, hypothermia could strike very quickly – even on warmer days. This is what firefighters recently learned at a training session in Ottumwa, Iowa, the Ottumwa Courier reported.

“Even if the water temperature is 90 degrees, that’s still below your body’s temperature of 98.6 degrees,” Captain Pat Short told the news source.

In addition to learning about the threat posed by hypothermia, firefighters were taught how to use specific hand signals during icy rescues. For example, when a professional is in the water making a rescue, the firefighters on shore need to wait for this individual to tap his or her head. This simple signal means it is time to start pulling his or her rope to safety.

Different bodies of water mean different rescue scenarios in Massachusetts
Firefighters from Massachusetts’ Auburn Fire Department also took advantage of winter conditions and held their annual pond rescue training session, New England Cable News reported. Those who participated in this session assumed the roles of victims and rescuers as they visited the pond next to their fire station.

For firefighters, this type of firefighter rescue training is essential, as every body of water is different. Ice is very unpredictable, and no two ponds freeze alike.

“If you’re not familiar with it, you may not know where the currents are and that’s where it’s going to freeze the least,” Captain Glenn Johnson of the Auburn Fire Department told the news outlet.

Ultimately, these two examples prove just how vital firefighter training for icy rescues is – especially in areas that are known to have frigid winters.


Firefighters tackle blazes throughout Hurricane Sandy

Firefighters tackle blazes throughout Hurricane Sandy

Firefighters tackle blazes throughout Hurricane Sandy

With the strength of a Category-1 storm, Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey on October 29. It is unlikely that the devastation that accompanied the storm will be forgotten for many years to come, as Sandy is responsible for billions of dollars in damages across the Northeast.

In addition to flattening houses and flooding streets, Sandy’s high winds helped flames spread between homes, leaving once thriving communities resembling warzones. While firefighters along the East Coast were unable to save every home that caught ablaze, their determination and the firefighter training they had received surely played a role in their efforts to fight back flames.

Inferno claims Queens community
As Hurricane Sandy battered New York City, a fire raged in the Queens community of Breezy Point. Despite the best efforts of hundreds of firefighters who took to the flooded streets of Breezy Point, more than 80 homes were lost in the inferno, the New York Daily News reported. In some cases, firefighters were up to their necks in water, trying to get the fires under control.

Even though New York Congressman Robert Turner was among those who lost a home in the blaze, he still praised the efforts of first responders.

Connecticut firefighters hailed as ‘superheroes’
In Connecticut, what the Connecticut Post referred to as a “firestorm” overtook the community of Old Greenwich. As Hurricane Sandy raged all around them, career and volunteer firefighters did their best to prevent flames from spreading from one home to another in this densely developed area.

It was Sandy’s extreme conditions – including winds that exceeded 80 miles per hour – that made local residents heap praise on the brave firefighters who risked their lives to save property.

“I told them motivationally at the beginning they were heroes, not superheroes,” Fire Chief Peter Siecienski, told the news source. “I didn’t want them to feel they could defy all odds. They performed like superheroes.”

In the aftermath of Sandy, heroes step forward
While the fires may be extinguished, much work lies ahead for those who were most impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In North Carolina, for example, firefighters from Onslow County are joining forces with different organizations to provide relief to storm victims, the Jacksonville Daily News reported. Around four to six firefighters also plan to head up North to assist where they can.

If anything, the unpredictability of Hurricane Sandy shows just how important it is for professionals to have completed fire rescue training and other exercises that can prepare them for these types of scenarios.

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