Firefighters use their skills for a good cause

Firefighters use their skills for a good cause

Firefighters use their skills for a good cause

There are many ways in which firefighters can save lives, from carrying someone out of a burning home to providing individuals with a ladder so they can climb out of a smoky high-rise apartment. However, these are not the only ways these rescue workers’ firefighter training can be used to help others. In some cases, firefighters can even have a little fun for a good cause.

Climbing with a purpose
Although it may seem like torture to some people, asking firefighters to compete in a stair climb race for a good cause is not uncommon. After all, those who are in this line of work have already completed enough firefighter training drills to know how to run up stairwells while suited up for the worst possible situations.

Art Weichbrodt of Washington’s Kent Fire Department is among the firefighters who will race up 69 flights of stairs inside Seattle’s Columbia Center, according to the Kent Reporter. He does not mind the fact that he will be decked out in full fire gear, including a self-contained breathing apparatus, on February 2, because he realizes what is at stake.

The firefighter, along with 13 of his peers from the Kent Fire Department, will participate in the 22nd annual Scott Firefighter Stairclimb, which is designed to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. For Weichbrodt, this is a cause that hits close to home, as one of his friends lost a daughter to leukemia, and another friend has a child with the disease.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the country in Massachusetts, firefighters from three Cape Ann communities are preparing for a stair climb of their own, the Gloucester Times reported. On February 2, rescue workers will converge on One Boston Place in Boston for the 2013 Fight for Air Climb, which is being organized by the American Lung Association. These professionals plan to race up 82 flights of stairs in honor of Michael Smith, a Gloucester firefighter, who lost his battle with lung cancer this past July.

Putting their stamina to the test
Whether firefighters are charging into burning buildings or dousing flames in unbearable temperatures, they need to have stamina. However, there is no rule that says their abilities can only be used when something is on fire. That is why rescue workers from New York’s Greenville Fire District will soon use their skills during the Cycle for Survival cycling event this March, with proceeds going toward the fight against cancer The Greenburgh Daily Voice reported.

Like many other firefighters who participate in fundraisers, Stuart Evans feels a personal responsibility to take part in this event. After all, he was a friend of the event’s co-founder Jennifer Linn, who succumbed to soft-tissue sarcoma, a rare type of cancer, two years ago.

“There are not many people nowadays that haven’t been affected by cancer some way or another,” Evans said. “People know their money is making a difference.”


Firefighters prepare for a future battling electric car blazes

Firefighters prepare for a future battling electric car blazes

Firefighters prepare for a future battling electric car blazes

During President Barack Obama’s first term in office, he set a goal of putting 1 million advanced technology vehicles on the nation’s roads by 2015, according to the White House’s official website. Among them would be electric cars, which Obama wanted to see become more affordable. While the president’s goal has yet to be achieved, there is no denying that more motorists are choosing to go electric.

With so many cars zipping down the nation’s roads every day, there is always a chance one or more will catch fire, whether due to a collision or a problem underneath the hood. While firefighter training can prepare rescue workers for situations involving automobiles that run on gasoline, many of them may not know how to handle a Chevy Volt or a similar electric car that has caught fire.

Electric cars do catch on fire
Even if their tanks are not filled with highly flammable gasoline, electric cars can still catch on fire. In fact, 16 Fisker Karma electric vehicles recently caught fire in Port Newark, New Jersey, as Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the Garden State, Business Insider reported. Soon after floodwaters submerged the cars, they caught fire and exploded. According to officials from Fisker Automotive, none of the vehicles were charging at the time.

While the reasons behind these fires is not fully known at this time, firefighter training drills that prepare individuals for these types of scenarios will be essential as more people purchase electric vehicles.

Firefighters receive electric car fire training
Idaho firefighters recently converged on the city of Meridian to learn how to battle blazes involving hybrid and electric vehicles, KTVB reported. This knowledge is essential because while these cars tend to resemble non-hybrid automobiles, looks can be deceiving. They can also prove troublesome to first responders who do not realize they are dealing with an electric vehicle.

“We had one pull off in a field one time and the tires were still spinning, and the car was sitting there, but you couldn’t tell that the car was on,” Jim Hitch of the Parma Volunteer Fire Department and Idaho Emergency Services Training, told the news source. “Since they’re silent, you don’t know that they’re on, so the vehicles can move without you even knowing.”

Fire departments aim to keep their firefighters safe with new equipment

Fire departments aim to keep their firefighters safe with new equipment

Fire departments aim to keep their firefighters safe with new equipment

Every time firefighters respond to a call, they can never be sure that they will return to their fire station. However, there are factors that can increase the odds of a safe conclusion to their days, such as additional firefighter training and better equipment.Fire departments that not only stay abreast of the latest in firefighting gear and technology, but also provide it for their crews, prove they place a strong value on keeping these professionals safe when they are on the job. Recently, the following three fire departments made headlines for their efforts to create a stronger firefighting force in the areas they are dedicated to protecting:

New fire truck means new capabilities
In North Carolina, the Holly Ridge Fire Department became the recent recipient of a new fire truck valued at $250,000, the Jacksonville Daily News reported. The ladder truck came free of charge through the state’s Forestry Service, so long as the fire department covers its delivery charges. Of course, a delivery charge is a small price to pay given all area firefighters will be able to do with this new vehicle in their possession.

“It will increase aerial operations,” Brandon Longo, chief of the Holly Ridge Fire Department, told the news source. “We can fight larger fires, flow more water and make quicker rescues.”

Not only will the ladder truck make it easier for firefighters to rescue individuals trapped in tall structures, but it will also benefit nearby fire departments that receive aid from Holly Ridge, including those on Pender County, Turkey Creek, Haws Run and Sneads Ferry.

Firefighters receive much-needed replacement gear
In Toledo, Ohio, firefighters no longer have to rely on 16-year-old gear, as they are now using new self-contained breathing apparatuses, the Toledo Blade reported. In total, the city’s fire department received 222 units, six laptops and five rapid intervention team packs, which, all together, cost more than $1.2 million. Fortunately, $995,776 was covered by a U.S.Department of Homeland Security assistance to firefighters grant.

The units firefighters now wear are about four or five pounds heavier than what they were used to, but they are also said to do a better job of distributing the 26 to 28 pounds they weigh. At the same time, the face pieces come equipped with three green lights that reveal how much air is left in the 30-minute tanks firefighters are carrying.

“These will improve our safety,” Lieutenant Matthew Hertzfeld told the news outlet. “…This is a major step in making a dangerous job safer. Ultimately, at a fire scene, your air supply is one of the most important issues you have to deal with.”

New air packs make it easier to breathe
When firefighters rush into burning buildings, the last thing they want is to run out of air. Unfortunately, this became a problem for professionals in DeKalb County, Georgia, in recent years, as the brand of air packs they were using repeatedly failed them, WSB-TV Atlanta reported. Now, these same firefighters are doing their job without any breathing problems thanks to county leaders’ decision to purchase Scott brand air packs.

“They are relieved,” Norman Augustin, the DeKalb fire chief, told the news source in regards to his firefighters. “I’m excited we actually have a piece of equipment we can operate safely.”

While it is not always possible to know how well firefighting equipment will perform in a major blaze, firefighter training drills may prove to be a good opportunity for testing the quality of a department’s gear.

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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