Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Burn building experience

Tomorrow I will be in fire and rescue gear prepared to go into a burning old house and attack the fire and locate an 180-pound dummy somewhere in the building.

This is about the only thing I have not done as a journalist for 12 years—10 of which were spent with public safety reporting. I’ve been on ambulances, fire trucks, climbed ladders, broken windows and used a hose, but I have never been in a burning building with full equipment.

Today, I was fitted for the equipment and gear, which is pretty heavy stuff. I was also fitted for a mask and breathing gear with a tank that contains about 30 minutes of air. The instructors wanted me to run around and climb some stairs to get tired, which I did for about 10 minutes. When I stopped I felt a bit claustrophobic because it’s not like open-air breathing. I felt trapped inside the mask and it got me a little scared but it went away quickly. I figured after a few half dozen or so fire training exercises, that worry would disappear.

I felt comfortable with all the gear on and tomorrow morning is the big test. Wish me luck. The experience should prove valuable for me.


  • SteveThomas

    Good luck Dan, and kudos to you for trying it. It’s a valuable experience.

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Good Luck Dan! Take good notes to share!

  • Sam

    How bout some photos!

  • bhaas

    What is it they say in show biz? “Break a Leg!” Seriously, good luck, I like the pictures suggestion.

  • wizard1073

    Best thing I did as a Rescue Squad EMT was go through firefighter training to give me an appreciation for how much dangerous work it is. Your instructors will take good care of you in training, but remember that it is much more dangerous for the firefighters in the real thing. The real thing is not well understood from the get go, so the firefighting team has to learn the situation fresh every time while the clock is ticking and lives and property are in danger. Experience helps, but it is not a panacea. Experienced firefighters still get trapped, fall through floors, have ceilings fall on them, and fail to find what they are searching for. I hope this opens your eyes even wider and makes you a better, more informed Fire/Rescue reporter.