READY FOR THE RES­CUE

Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment goes through con­fined spa­ces train­ing

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - BRYAN FAZIO bfazio@cov­news.com

A blaze rag­ing through acres of wood­land or threat­en­ing to hop to a neigh­bor­ing house is some­thing all fire­fight­ers are trained to han­dle.

How­ever, those types of emer­gen­cies aren’t the only ones that fire­fight­ers must han­dle. Of­ten­times, peo­ple who are in a bad wreck or trapped in a tight sit­u­a­tion need the fire depart­ment, its equip­ment and spe­cial­iza­tion to come to the res­cue. In Cov­ing­ton alone, there are a num­ber of in­dus­tries and busi­nesses where em­ploy­ees work in tight, dan­ger­ous spa­ces ev­ery day.

The Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment is in the process of be­ing cer­ti­fied to han­dle those sit­u­a­tions with na­tional ex­per­tise.

Through­out the week, the fire depart­ment has been go­ing through a course in Con­fined Space and Tech­ni­cal Res­cue Train­ing. This train­ing, be­yond the fire­fight­ers’ typ­i­cal an­nual com­pe­tency prepa­ra­tion, was spe­cially writ­ten into the 2014 bud­get.

“It’s not re­quired, but it’s some­thing each depart­ment has to fig­ure out. It in­volves a lot of equip­ment, a lot of ad­di­tional cost for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity and a lot more ex­pen­di­tures to con­tinue to train peo­ple on th­ese ad­vanced tech­niques,” Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment As­sis­tant Fire Mar­shal Tony Smith said. “The city has pri­or­i­tized it due to our heavy in­dus­try. We have a lot of ar­eas where in­ci­dents would oc­cur at th­ese in­dus­tries where it would re­quire a spe­cial skill set.”

Ev­ery mem­ber of the 56-per­son staff has gone through three sta­tions of the hands-on ex­er­cises, along with class­room lessons be­gin­ning Mon­day, go­ing through the week and con­clud­ing with a Na­tional Pro­fes­sional Qual­i­fi­ca­tions test Jan. 27. The first prac­ti­cal ex­er­cise be­gan Mon­day in a ditch out­side the old Food Depot shop­ping center on High­way 278, moved to a man­hole in front of the CVS, and con­cluded at a silo at Con­tract Pack­ag­ing on In­de­pen­dence Cir­cle.

Ses­sions were split up among the fire depart­ment’s three shifts so no over­time was needed to com­plete the train­ing.

“The guys re­ceived 32 hours of train­ing and rope res­cue,” said Ge­orge Nour, pres­i­dent and owner of Pro­fes­sional Res­cue and Fire Train­ing, the or­ga­ni­za­tion con­duct­ing the course. Par­tic­i­pants also gained “skills such as sup­plied air and com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the event of a cit­i­zen get­ting trapped in a piece of ma­chin­ery or some­thing where the guys can get in there and res­cue,” Nour said.

Af­ter com­plet­ing the train­ing and pass­ing Mon­day’s test, all of Cov­ing­ton’s fire­fight­ers will be cer­ti­fied to han­dle con­fined-space res­cues in any state in the coun­try.

“No mat­ter which ap­pa­ra­tus is needed or which shift is on duty, we will all have the same level of train­ing through­out ,” Smith said.

Dar­rell Everidge/ The Cov­ing­ton News

The Cov­ing­ton Fire Depart­ment has been tak­ing a course in Con­fined Space and Tech­ni­cal Res­cue all week. Part of the train­ing in­cludes uti­liz­ing pul­leys and har­nesses to get into tight ar­eas such as ditches and in­dus­trial con­tain­ers as pic­tured. Ac­cord­ing to the depart­ment, the train­ing be­came a pri­or­ity in 2014 due to the num­ber of in­dus­tries in Cov­ing­ton. The 56-per­son staff will con­clude its train­ing with a Na­tional Pro­fes­sional Qual­i­fi­ca­tions test Jan. 27. Fire­fight­ers will be cer­ti­fied to han­dle th­ese types of res­cues across the coun­try.

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