2015-10-26 / Front Page

Firefighters learn how to rescue the rescuers

By TIM GULLA
Ledger Staff Writer


Gaffney Fire Lt. Scotty Richards (right) coaches one of his fellow firefighters at the City of Gaffney’s fire training facility on Beltline Road. In one of the training scenarios Friday, firefighters had to make their way out of a building without being able to see. Wax paper stuffed into their face masks obscured their vision. Gaffney Fire Lt. Scotty Richards (right) coaches one of his fellow firefighters at the City of Gaffney’s fire training facility on Beltline Road. In one of the training scenarios Friday, firefighters had to make their way out of a building without being able to see. Wax paper stuffed into their face masks obscured their vision. A firefighter loses all visibility in a burning building and is separated from his teammates.

Another firefighter falls into the basement of a burning building.

The question for both of them is the same. How do they get out?

Luckily, the question is a hypothetical one that Gaffney firefighters have been tackling at their new training facility through an educational class on “rescuing the rescuer.”

Firefighters are being put through several scenarios to test their reactions and decision-making. “It teaches them to call for help before it’s too late,” explained Fire Capt. Wayne Brown.

While that might seem like a simple concept, it’s actually a tough thing for firefighters who are the ones accustomed to being called upon for help.

Operating over their short-range radio frequencies, firefighter after firefighter called out a practice “mayday, mayday, mayday” on Friday afternoon at the start of one specific scenario.

Dressed in full gear and breathing from an air tank with a limited supply, each firefighter had to find their way out of a “burning” building without being able to see. Common kitchen wax paper was used to line their face masks so they had no vision.

A fire hose, they know, leads outside to a fire truck, explained Fire Marshal Scott Coleman. So the the firefighters had to ascertain which way the fire hose was headed and make their way by feel. Coleman said firefighters can tell the direction of the hose based on the couplings between hose sections.

To make the situation even more difficult, multiple hoses were stretched throughout the training grounds, some placed on top of each other like spaghetti. If the firefighter let go of the hose they started with, they’d never find their way outside.

Firefighter after firefighter was reminded, “Don’t let go.”

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The city has passed first reading of an ordinance that would allow a U-haul truck drop off (up to four trucks in the Farmer’s Market parking lot across from the Gaffney Visitors Center. Do you think this is an appropriate spot for such an enterprise?