Firefighters battle 20-foot-high flames in training

Idaho Falls

Firefighters train at the Eastern Idaho Fire Academy on Sunday at Eastern Idaho Technical College. Photos by Stephan Rockefeller | EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS– Dozens of firefighters — both rookies and veterans — are now better trained to help you in a emergency.

Firefighters from all over southeast Idaho attended the Eastern Idaho Fire Academy this weekend held at the Eastern Idaho Technical College.

Several classroom courses were offered with numerous hands-on trainings, which included structural firefighting tactics, liquid petroleum gad fires, flashover safety and survival, wildland fire training, advance vehicle extraction, and multiple self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) courses.

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“Firefighters who pass each course get a certificate saying so,” Ammon Fire Capt. Jon Molbert told EastIdahoNews.com. “Not all the courses are required to be a firefighter, but a lot are taken to expand our knowledge.”

Ammon Fire Department owns a live fire-training simulator, which was a part of the training course. For a lot of new recruits, it was their first time fighting a fire.

Firefighters started with basic entry techniques, breaking through doors held by wooden dowels to simulate a locked door. Instructors Mike Dale and Lex Hightower from Ammon Fire were on hand offering advice, along with Tom Igoe from Blackfoot Fire. Instructors showed the men and women how to properly and quickly pry a door open.

The black soot-covered, live fire-training simulator is advanced technologically with oxygen and gas sensors, ventilation fans and several emergency triggers used to immediately shut down the simulation. A makeshift stove and bunkbed are placed on the first floor, both with lines exhausting propane gas. Walls within the simulator can be configured in various ways to keep firefighters thinking and to help them use their instincts.

The simulator also has a roof access to simulate cutting through rafters, and approaching structure fires through a stairwell.

Firefighters at other locations with in the EITC campus got familiar with their SCBA masks making their way through a trailer with a built in maze. Smoke inside the trailer forced the fire fighters to rely and depend on their SCBA gear, and help them learn to trust the equipment and at times make adjustments in critical situations.

By far the most eye-catching course was the petroleum gas fire training, which at times shot flames 20 feet in the air.

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Instructors Steven Berg with Ammon Fire and Carl Anderson with Central Fire District were on hand to demonstrate the proper approach. The fire fighters, working as a team, started about 25 yards from the fire and walked toward it, adjusting their hose nozzles as they got closer. The groups did these drills several times, and after each run were told what they did well and could do better.

Also a guest speaker, John Norman, held a seminar both Saturday and Sunday. Norman is a 40-year veteran, served as deputy assistant chief in Special Operations Command for the New York City Fire Department until his retirement in 2007. He served as the search and rescue manager for the World Trade Center attack, and held a key role in rebuilding the department in the following years. Some of the money used to hire Norman to come and speak was money donated by PD Cares generated from the 2015 9/11 Fallen Hero Tribute Run/Walk.

“It was great. Chief Norman was fantastic,” Idaho Falls Fire Department Division Chief Jeff Parsons told EastIdahoNews.com. “A lot of people don’t know this, but he survived the collapse of the second tower on 9/11. NYFD took a huge hit that day. Norman help them rebuild and recover from the loss.”

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