New device helps train firefighters

January 28, 2009 3:14:15 PM PST
Our annual Operation 7 Save a Life Campaign kicks off Wednesday, and it's our commitment to helping your family survive and prevent fires. Now, there is a new training tool that firefighters are using so they can get to your family quicker during a fire, even if the doors are locked.

"You have to be able to do it in the dark and be able to do it under smoky conditions," FDNY Lieutenant Joseph Curl said.

Firefighters say it's the most important aspect of the job - being able to get into a burning structure fast.

"We'll sometimes talk about delayed entry, because locking devices or the way the building was secured," Curl said. "These are things we have to overcome."

Firefighters had to cut the locks off heavy metal doors at a grocery store in Queens when five workers were trapped inside as fire raged around them.

The new piece of equipment is going to help perfect their forcible entry skills even more. Firefighters from Engine Company 1/Ladder Company 24 demonstrated how it works.

The simulator was designed by a New York City firefighters and consists of doors attached to steel columns. The exercise really focuses on technique rather than brute strength, and it hones in on two real-life scenarios.

"If you look at your apartment door in New York City, your door to your apartment opens in," Assistant Fire Chief Thomas Galvin said. "So the skill to opening an inward door is a totally different set than for outward opening doors, which are mostly found in commercial buildings."

Until now, firefighters sharpening their forcible entry skills would have to leave their fire houses and go to Randall's Island, which could take them out of service for hours. With the new device, crews can stay local since it moves from house to house.

In the end, the more efficient firefighters are, the faster they can get into a structure, search for victims and put out the flames.

The simulator will travel to fire stations all over the five boroughs, giving crews a chance to sharpen skills they will no doubt use one day.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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