Area fire departments participate in multi-agency training

Fireighter crews, trucks and ambulances from host South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and Bremerton Fire Department converged earlier this week for three days of multi-agency training at the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil.

Firefighters carry a ladder during a multi-agency training drill on the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil on March 24. South Kitsap Fire and Rescue

Firefighters carry a ladder during a multi-agency training drill on the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil on March 24. South Kitsap Fire and Rescue

A fireman broke through a second-story window to find a child that was inside the smoke-filled building. Once they were found, he handed the children into the hands of a firefighter waiting on a ladder propped along the building.

Once the children were out of the building, emergency first-aid was performed by the fireman.

It was one of several scenarios during a multi-agency training exercise Tuesday morning.

Fireighter crews, trucks and ambulances from host South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and Bremerton Fire Department converged earlier this week for three days of multi-agency training at the Washington Veterans Home in Retsil.

There was a morning and afternoon session held on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Each session was 2 1/2 hours long

According to SKFR Battalion Chief Jon Gudmundsen the training was conducted on an old vacant building on the Retsil campus.

“The staff has kindly allowed us to train in the facility,” Gudmundsen said.

The vacant building has been used for fire department training three time before for SKFR.

It was used as a post office for the veterans home.

He said there were about 12-14 apparatus and about 25 firefighters for each session.

“For each session, the crews practiced fire attack, search and rescue with two dummy victims, rooftop ventilation, communication and coordination of incident command,” Gudmundsen said.

He said another major portion of the drill was firefighters practicing the rescue of other downed firefighters who have become trapped or lost during a blaze.

Battalion Chief Jeff Fausett said each quarter SKFR, Central and Bremerton participates in a common drill such as light fire training, hazardous material training and technical rescue training.

“This quarter we are focusing on firefighter survival, in the event a firefighter shall go down inside,” said Fausett. “We’re also doing rapid rescue of a victim. There are all sorts of dynamics.”

Faucett said all three shifts from the three departments participated in the three-day training. Each drill consisted of at least three units (fire engine, medic, and/or ladder truck) from each department.

He said CenCom was used as the training’s dispatch center.

“They will dispatch our units on a special frequency that no one else will hear,” said Faucett, a 20-year veteran firefighter.

He said the firefighters used “theater smoke” in the building mixed with several scenarios for the firefighters.

“It just challenges the firefighters, incident command officers and everybody to make sure that our skills are honed in the event a firefighter goes down,” Faucett said. “It’s a major deal for us because we want to make sure we can grab them and find them quickly. We want to make sure everyone is on the same page.”

He said when a major commercial fire occurs, an automatic mutual aid alarm sounds.

“These three organizations are going to participate on a major alarm fire,” Faucett noted. “By us coming and working together, we’re not waiting until a major event happens.”

He added the training does incorporate volunteers such as air support units.

Gudmundsen said the drills have been successful and that the departments had the opportunity to use a real building with multiple rooms for the drill.

“When crews are faced with the unknown it really challenges them,” Gudmundsen said. “When they aren’t used to the environment, like they are in a training center, they have to really think on their feet. We want to present them with solving those challenges in a training environment first so they can be better prepared and more efficient on the incident scene”

Gudmundsen noted that SKFR has been working with the Washington Veterans Home staff for a couple years to use a building that is waiting state funding for demolition.

Prior to the removal of Building 6, Retsil staff and SKFR have agreed to use the building as a training ground for firefighters, he added.

 

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