Intense Training Is First In State

September 14, 2007 - Posated at 4:47 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO-Crawling through a dark maze of walls, furniture, and using only a hose as a guide, the Jonesboro Fire Department began it's advanced safety training on Friday.

"The basic ideas behind it, if we are not able to stay safe, we are not able to do our job. Then we can't help the public. We can't help the citizens. So it's extremely important," said Chief Kevin Miller.

What's unique is this is the first training of it's kind in the entire state of Arkansas.

"We've been able to go off to a couple of different courses to get a lot of different ideas, a lot of techniques that we are able to incorporate, and bring it back and incorporate in our department. We have some other departments around that are taking an interest in it, and hopefully it's going to catch on and spread through the rest of the state," said Miller.

But when fire spreads, knowing the in's and out's of safety is important.

"On this wall right here, they have to learn how to crawl through in case of a house fire."

The studded wall has 16, 14, and 12 inch openings commonly found in modern homes.

But getting through can be a task with heavy and bulky equipment.

"This one's going to be a challenge. Keep that shoulder up. There you go. Now your helmet," said Miller to one of his firefighters.

Another maneuver involves some new technology. Firefighters are now using a 900 degree rated rope that allows them to repel themselves from multi-story buildings, something these guys need to know when putting their lives at risk.

Doug Baker with the Searcy Fire Department has been helping with the training so he can implement it back home with his firefighters.

"I think it's a confidence builder for the firefighters to learn their equipment, learn their abilities, and learn to trust their own judgement. So, I think it's going to be an excellent opportunity for the firefighters to learn to rescue themselves," said Baker.

Especially when every second counts.

"The drills that we are doing, literally are pass - fail. If you fail these exercises, that means you did not make it out alive," said Miller.

In all, there were a total of six exercises the firefighters had to complete.

The Jonesboro Fire Department will be teaming up with Searcy in a couple of weeks to begin the first training of this sort for the central part of Arkansas.

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