By Connie Osborne Friday 06 September 2013 Updated: 06/09 08:49
RUNNING into a burning building to save the lives of others is not for everyone but fortunately for the restof us, there are those remarkable few who risk their lives every day as firefighters.
Standard reporter Connie Osborne spent the morning at the borough's fire station to find out what really goes on behind the flashing lights.
IT IS 9am and the crew has lined up for roll call where each are assigned their jobs for the day, so everyone knows which engine they are on and who is driving.
The four men, which is the minimum needed to ride one of the station’s three pumps, then set about checking each engine and its equipment to make sure everything is working properly.
All of this is logged regularly throughout the day and is one of the many seemingly endless duties the crew take on every day to ensure their safety and the public’s.
While it is quiet in terms of calls - no flashing lights or sirens yet - watch commander Bob Morris makes sure his team are constantly kept on their toes with training sessions.
Today’s session is a visit to Diamond’s bus depot where crews will face the test of rescuing someone with a spinal injury from the top deck of a double decker bus.
Although it is a training exercise, the team follow every procedure they would in a real life situation, and with children travelling on buses to school, it’s a vital exercise.
First things first, the crew check over the bus, find where to turn the engine off and open any emergency exits. They then put blocks under the bus to stop it from moving, while all ‘casualties’ are checked before making their way up to the top deck.
Their main focus is a child dummy weighing 25 kg, which I can barely lift, let alone carry. They manoeuvre the dummy gently and with ease might I add, around the narrow deck on a spinal board. They wrap him in rope in what’s called a ‘bacon roll’ so when he is moved, he won’t slip or slide and cause further injury to himself.
They take him down the stairs first but in the event they cannot use the stairs, the team rehearse carrying him through the back window and slide him onto their biggest ladder, which eventually leads him safely to the ground.
Bob said: “It’s not just about learning something new, but refreshing their knowledge. Today we have a young firefighter here and it’s something which he can sign off in his work book, he gets to integrate with the team and the older guys also get an important refresher. It’s a win-win situation for them.
“It’s not just always about getting fire engines out of the door but what actually goes on behind the scenes is just as important in the job. That gives us the skills to rescue the people we do, to do the job we do and to save lives.”
He added in over 35 years of working for the service he had become somewhat famous for his unique training exercises. If it’s not teaching his team how to cope with enclosed spaces down in the old train tunnels under the town, he cuts out pictures of houses in the local newspapers and test everyone on their road knowledge.
“At the end of the day we are here to do a job, a very important job. I want to make sure the men and women who work here are best equipped for that call. You never know what it’s going to be so we need to train everyone in every area.”
As we go back to the station and my morning with the crew draws to an end, I cannot help but admire the mentality of the men and women who do this day in day out, not to mention their physical strength.
Every day they take on a new challenge or make sure their up to scratch on old skills. Whether they are visiting schools to talk about fire safety, or highlighting the importance of smoke alarms to residents, or in today’s case scaling a double decker bus, it is clear there is more to being a firefighter than just tackling fires.
They are chameleons, Jack of all trades, part doctor, part technology expert, part handyman and after watching from the side lines today, definitely part Superman.
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