By Debby Schamber
The Orange Leader
Armed with an ax and halogen, area firefighters trained wearing full bunker gear to follow their instincts and a fire hose through the heavy smoke.
Firefighters from Pinehurst, Orange, West Orange, Little Cypress and McLewis came together Thursday evening to train for realistic situations at the Orangehurst Shopping Center.
“We can do classroom training, but they have become compliant; this gives them a taste of what can happen,” said Chief Grady Gray of the Pinehurst Volunteer Fire Department. “This exercise also provides cross-training with other agencies and to be able to get familiar with their skills, level of training and equipment.”
Two firefighters at a time entered the building. They were not able to see in the smoke-filled room. The firefighters worked on their search and rescue skills by looking for a dummy in need of rescue. They also worked on firefighter entrapment and how to work through obstacles they may encounter in a house fire.
Travis Donnaud, a firefighter with PHVFD, was in the first group to go through the training. Hot and exhausted he came out of the building.
“It was a pretty tough course,” he said. “Climbing through the chairs was the toughest part.”
The training exercise can be especially important for rookie firefighters who still have left to develop the instincts and skills needed in the event of an emergency.
“This is very important; we need people who are confident in what they do,” said Capt. Carl Pulled of the Orange Fire Department. “This is a confidence booster. Without confidence in yourself, you tend to make mistakes.”
The scenario is part of the training required to stay a certified firefighter.
“This teaches firefighters the basics on going in and developing instincts that may occur inside a structure,” said Chief Lewis Hogan of Emergency Services District No. 3. “This will also enable the firefighters to learn to work together in the case of a large scale emergency.”