Fire Ops 101 training shows local officials the realities of firefighting

COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Professional firefighters gave local officials hands-on training to help them understand what they do when a fire happens in their communities.

The training is part of Fire Ops 101, a response to the deadly 2005 fire that killed three firefighters. It took officials through different stations that demonstrate the challenges firefighters face every day.

NEWS10 ABC reporter Rachel Yonkunas was part of the group that took part in the training. The day started with searching for a victim. They were blindfolded, wore oxygen masks, and crawled through what would be a smoke filled home.

They relied mostly on touch.

“I have a person!” Rachel shouted through her mask.

She struggled to pull the unconscious victim to safety. How to hold the victim is one of many details that constantly run through the minds of firefighters.

“You don’t really have that much time,” Albany firefighter Keith Cipollo said. “You have to get it done quickly. You have to keep in your mind sort of a clock on that: In a couple of minutes this whole area could burst into flames.”

Now imagine the real deal.

A pod burn demonstration shows how quickly a room goes up in flames. The room was fully engulfed within four minutes.

The group also had the opportunity to get a look inside a burning building. Though it was only a simulated burn, smoke quickly replaced the air in the room, and the temperature reached nearly 900 degrees.

“You can’t see anything in there; the room was filled with smoke,” Rachel described.

But what’s fighting a fire without water. Running a hose up three flights of stairs is strenuous work.

There was also the 100 ft. ladder climb.

But the brave men and women don’t just fight fires. They also free people from a car crash. It took all of Rachel’s strength, and she still needed help using the Jaws of Life to tear open the door.

After the day, Rachel had to ask: “It’s hard work; it’s dangerous work. Why do you do it?”

“I do it because I love it,” Cipollo said. “I’ve been doing it for 30 years now. There’s just something about it that keeps me coming back to work. When you know that you’ve made a difference and you’ve done something right, and you’ve helped somebody. It is a very gratifying feeling.”

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