BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — Extinguishing the pallet fires inside an empty cement block building was the simple part.
Coordinating communications, crew and equipment, several area fire instructors sweated through “class” last weekend as a last step in earning certification to conduct live fire training – all while protecting fellow firefighters.
Including morning and afternoon sessions, 49 firefighters participated in the live fire training at the Maumee training facility. Six are working to complete their instructor class requirements, said White-house Fire Deputy Chief Jason Francis, who put the class together along with training officer Kevin McNutt. Ohio added the live fire training piece for instructors in January 2018.
“It’s not just going and putting out a fire. We make this as realistic as possible,” Francis said.
Firefighters from Monclova Township, Providence Township, Washington Township, Waterville and Whitehouse converged at the Mingo Drive facility.
Pallets and straw were lit on fire to simulate live fires in a basement, kitchen, living room and a camp fire – such as an out-of-control bonfire. Inside the building, a thermal imager showed temperatures at the floor were 400 degrees and reached 600 at the ceiling in the controlled environment.
“Crews may respond to structure fires where temperatures can reach an access of 1,200 degrees at the ceiling, but you won’t be in there a long time. If there’s a ton of black smoke, or smoke that changes in color and velocity, we’re not going in unless it’s a matter of life or safety,” Francis said.
Capt. Jake Cook of Washington Township explained that the September 17 live fire instructor training will allow him to teach in more believable scenarios.
“We’re learning how to coach them through a situation and keep them safe at the same time,” said Cook, as he cooled off outside.
Capt. Chad Eickholt, of Providence Township Fire and Rescue, used his radio to direct crews in and out of the building while recording information on a command board. After the fire was extinguished, the team met to discuss what worked and what didn’t.
Those working on getting the live fire training certification include Cook, Eickholt, Mike Lord of Whitehouse, Lt. Jeff Wheeler of Toledo and Jon Gillen of Delta.
The Mingo Drive facility has areas for practicing car extractions and other drills.
Crews will return to the Maumee facility on Saturday, October 1 for additional training.
“This is the only training facility for a Class A fire close to our response area,” Francis said.