Delhi Township firefighters and EMTs have completed their annual training to use specialized equipment to help them breath in a fire.
Delhi Township Assistant Fire Chief Brad Drury said the Nov. 12 training was essential to make sure fire department crew know how to use their Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, including how to control their breathing while wearing the equipment and how to inspect them. Firefighters and part-time EMTs go through a mini course with their gear and air packs on.
“It’s our lifeline,” Drury said. “If at any point in time that you run out of air, if at any point in time there’s a malfunction, you’re in an environment that if you take one, sometimes one or two breaths of that air that’s in there, it’s enough to kill you.”
Drury said crew wear about 70 pounds of gear during the training. They walk up and down the equivalent of five flights of stairs, drag a hose line 150 feet, climb a ladder and lock it in, carry equipment such as a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher, hose rolls and a smoke ejector 100 feet, then finally drag a 180 pound dummy 100 feet.
“You’re all on air the whole time so it makes it a little more difficult. It’s pressurized and activated with your breath for every breath that you take,” Drury said. “Once you get the dummy back the test is over and we evaluate how much air is left in your tank.”
Lt. Paramedic Brett Justice said the testing is important to firefighters because they need to know how much air they use while working in a fire.
“Air consumption is one of our biggest issues in the service on fire calls because it’s one of our biggest lifelines,” Justice said.
Justice said firefighters need to be able to get out of a fire in an appropriate amount of time with enough air left in the tank.
“By understanding why it’s so important and how much work you can get done and how much air you use during that time is really important to know going into fires and saying, OK, I know I used about this much when I was doing the training so that’ll be a good rough estimate,” Justice said.
Part-time firefighter and EMT Deanna Martin-Sanchez said the testing is beneficial for her because she can learn from her mistakes.
“I just go for it, that’s how I’ve always been,” Martin-Sanchez said. “Once something is put in front of me I just go for it and I learn what I can do better.”
Drury said the purpose of this testing is to make sure people understand the function of their air packs and to be able to work efficiently while managing their air.
“You can imagine that if I was to send a firefighter in to rescue you in a fire and they only got a quarter of the way in because they were breathing so hard and not watching what they were doing, they’d have to turn around and leave before they got to you because they were getting low on air,” Drury said.