Westfield firefighters learn to survive

Firefighter Scott Wolfe maneuvers through a tight wall space during training this week. (Photos provided by Westfield Fire Dept.)

Firefighter Scott Wolfe maneuvers through a tight wall space during training this week. (Photos provided by Westfield Fire Dept.)

Westfield firefighters have been hard at work the past two months learning how to survive if the unthinkable happens.

The 25-hour fire ground survival program, developed by the International Association of Fire Fighters, teaches firefighters how to escape if they get lost or trapped in life threatening fires.

“This is the direct result of firefighter fatalities across the United States and Canada,” Westfield Fire Dept. Division Chief John Barrett said.

Barrett said training examples included exiting a window without burning yourself, getting through small walls and spaces and exiting areas with downed electrical wires.

“It’s so important to firefighter’s survival. We train and plan for the worst and hope for the best,” he said. “This training gives them confidence so when they come into a situation they’re not used to, they are collected and cool to deal with under pressure.”

Firefighter Dennis Everitt concentrates on training demonstration this week.

Firefighter Dennis Everitt concentrates on training demonstration this week.

The training includes five sessions in the classroom where firefighters learn prevention and survival skills and two full days of hands-on training. Barrett said the department had four certified trainers teaching.

“We practice it over and over again so they gain confidence,” he said, adding that a final course tests all the weeks of training in one burning building scenario.

Barrett said the entire department completed the training, and this style of training will continue for the 70 firefighters on staff.

“We train year-round, our guys are always being trained,” Barrett said. “This will be implemented into routine training every 12 weeks.”