Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.
The experience at the burn building was priceless
I wasn’t ever scared. With longtime firefighter Terry Snellings by my side, I walked in the burning building twice.
Snellings showed me how a thermal imaging camera works for searching and how it works to locate a fire. I was amazed with the capabilities of those devices that sort of look like a viewfinder on top of a handle.
He basically had me be the second member of a two-member search team. The other firefighter was in the room doing a primary search, which usually involves using a tool with a crowbar-like hook at the end. Not only does that tool bust through stuff, it can be swept across a room to determine its size. A primary search is fast but methodically done to ensure everything in that room is touched and turned.
The second time was during a live actual fire and we just swept room to room on our knees using the thermal imaging camera, which helped us locate the fire in a room closet. When I entered the room where the fire was, I will never forget the heat. I was stunned. I was standing and looking through the TIC and when I dropped to my knees it was a little cooler and easier to see in the room.
If in a fire, drop to the ground and get as close to the floor as you can. There is less smoke and heat if you do that.
The experience was great. I felt comfortable with the heavy uniform and I didn’t overheat. I lost 1 pound of water weight. I had confidence and thought I could have done more tasks if they wanted me to do it. I might ask if I can participate in the June training, too.
As a former public safety reporter, I wish I had this experience years ago. I’ve experienced just about everything there is with fire and rescue but entering a smoke-filled burning building.
Now I can say that I have been in a smoke-filled burning building and the experience has me better prepared if I were to ever be in a real house fire.
I want to thank the combined system of paid and volunteer firefighters for letting me participate.