County firefighters beat the heat
This past weekend was heated up not only through the weather conditions but with fire fighting simulation training for our local heroes of today.
Steve Hirsch, Vice President of Kansas State Firefighters Association (KSFFA) and Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), provides the resources for instructors such as Chris Komarek , KSFFA Southwest Trustee from Ellinwood, who was on hand as an instructor to present situations that first responders will occur during their times of fire calls and rescues.
Each month a school is provided for four trustee districts with three schools in each region. Mitchell County is in the northwest region and the school was requested by Mitchell, Cloud and Ottawa Rural Fire District # 1 at Simpson, Scottsville and Asherville. Classes were held at the Beloit fire station and other locations in Beloit with around 45 participants from other districts attending as well.
Hirsch is originally from Simpson and graduated from Glasco in 1980. His father was one of the three original founders of the Mitchell, Cloud and Ottawa Rural Fire District # 1 and says that firefighting is what he knows.
The KSFFA also provided training that goes hand in hand with the Emergency Medical Service and provides training to Emergency Medical Technicians on how to make sure the firefighters are hydrated, blood pressures taken and temperatures are monitored to make sure they are safe throughout their emergency responses..
"Around 100 firefighters die each year in the line of duty in the United States and it is not just from fires," said Hirsch. "A lot are from heart attacks. So we want to make sure we rotate fighters, get them hydrated, and monitor their health conditions. This has a lot of impact on this area after losing firefighter, Jimmie Niles, nine years ago in Downs."
Fire Captain Jim Niles, 59, from the Downs Fire Department in Osborne County, died after a cardiac condition while working at a garage fire. He had been with the department for 18 years. The KSFFA considered it a Line of Duty Death.
This past Saturday, a basic class of dealing with fire operations, a vehicle extrication on jaws of life and other rescue techniques and a skills trailer were used to simulate real situations.
The semi is used to place firefighters in real life moments, such as crawling through a maze for a rescue. It is filled with smoke for low visibility where fighters must crawl through in tight clearances. Another trailer provides a live fire within the back of the truck to ignite pallets and straw, where fighters have to stay low to fight with water in 350-400 degree heat conditions.
"These are very realistic simulations, dark and hot areas, which provides them good training, Hirsch said."
On Sunday, a fire, cause and determination class provided training on how to find the cause of a fire. A Chief Officer class was also presented.
"Volunteers in our communities are what provide our fire departments," said Hirsch. Without them, we wouldn't have departments. One thing we want to do is to show the community that they are training, doing their best, and to also have others join the ranks in "Helping our neighbors out". They live this motto day in and day out."
Positions are open in fire departments in different areas of need such as grant writers, retired truck drivers, etc. that can volunteer their time. If they aren't able to provide there, just taking a case of water to the fire departments, cookies and thank you's provide the momentum they need to feel appreciated.
"We need to be respective of not only the firefighters, but of their spouses as well," said Hirsch. "They enable them to be able to do the job. Thank the employers that allow them to take part in the communities volunteer departments. We also need to remember that after those firefighters have been up all night helping their neighbors, most of them still have to to work the next day."