Weapons of Mass Destruction
Domestic terrorism has increased at an alarming rate since 1992. The number of terrorist acts in the past 7 years was greater than all of the years since the Urban Terrorist Acts of the 1960s.
There are more identified domestic terrorist groups today than ever before. This is due to the change in the political climate of the 1990's. Terrorists are becoming more outspoken and are retaliating (Oklahoma City Federal Building) for government intervention in Waco, Texas, Ruby Ridge, and domestic anthrax scares of most recent.
Foreign sponsored terrorism is on the increase in the form of the World Trade Center bombing and the biological agent attempt in Oregon. And of course the most recent attack of September 11th in New York and Washington D.C.
The point is that terrorism is now in our own house and the federal government cannot control it alone. They realized this and in 1998, sponsored by a Domestic Terrorism Program based on the recognition of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, and nuclear).
Terrorism and weapons of mass destruction is the next phase of firefighting. It is here now and it will increase if the political climate does not change. Hopefully, through training, professionals in the Fire Service can try to keep up with these volatile times.
Ground Ladder Training
Because of the new elderly care residential facilities that have been constructed in recent years, and the fact that the Fire Department has limited access to many areas of these buildings, a greater reliance on ground ladders is required.
Firefighters have become proficient in handling all types of ladders that the Fire Department carries, especially the 40-foot Bangor Ladder, which will be used to rescue victims in the area of limited access around these facilities and because of inaccessibility by the Ladder Truck. A Bangor Ladder is able to reach a third-story window to rescue a trapped victim. Unfortunately, it requires a minimum of 4 firefighters to safely raise and position this ladder. In this training, our firefighters are taught to use this ladder more efficiently.
It is a firefighter's worst nightmare to arrive at the scene of a large residential complex to find a number of entrapped victims awaiting fire department rescue. This is why the ground ladder proficiency program is so important, and many hours of training have taken place each year.
Fire Hose Handling
Upon completion of the ladder training course, the Fire Department went into their fire hose handling and fire control training.
The purpose of this training was to make sure all department personnel were proficient in laying out and using all sizes and configurations of the fire hose on the engines. It is very important, just as in the ladder training, that all our firefighters are able to lay out and use a fire hose in the same manner, no matter which shift or station they are assigned to.
Various drills were held for time and proficiency. Smoke was added for realism and the basement fire scenario, a victim rescue scenario, was added. The lessons learned in this type of training will be reinforced when the firefighters move on to Live Fire Training. As with additional ladder training, more hose work was planned this year. More efficient fire control is the key to rescue and property conservation.
Live Fire Training
Members of the Fire Department took part in live firefighting operations which require testing of all fire ground operations -- Incident command procedures, hose handling, pump operation, fire control, search and rescue and roof ladder application. Firefighters were placed in a smoke and heat-filled environment and were expected to extinguish a room fire and locate a missing victim in this smoke-obscured atmosphere.
The importance of getting our firefighters in live fire training situations is immeasurable. It not only hones their fireground skills and makes them more efficient, but more importantly, it is done under safety conditions.
Rapid Intervention Team Training
The Training Bureau will continue to work with the Zone D Fire Departments in formulating a plan for rescuing our own in the event a firefighter becomes lost or trapped in a burning building.
The program is called Rapid Intervention Team (RIT) Training. The team consists of at least 3 firefighters on the scene whose only responsibility is to rescue a fallen firefighter in trouble. The RIT is a requirement under NFPA 1500 Standards.
Training of all department members began in December 1999, and will continue after the Emergency Medical Technician refresher training, which is also a State requirement for licensure. A coordinated Zone D effort in RIT training continued in March of this year, and will be completed only after all Zone D fire departments have an interconnected program of mutual aid in firefighter rescue techniques.