NORTHWOOD, IA - It doesn’t get better for these firefighters who are getting the experience of battling flames without leaving their lot and having to go too far from home.
Mark Halbach and the rest of the Northwood Fire crew are training with the help of the Iowa fire service program which is designed to give firefighters realistic training no matter the place.
“Well we have fire schools around the state but rather than taking people and taking the day away from their families, traveling to fire schools, we decided to have an opportunity to have the trailer up here in north Iowa. Invite neighboring communities to come on in, talk with us and work together with them on interior fire attack,” said Halbach, 2nd Assistant Chief with the Northwood Volunteer Fire Department.
The mobile trailer made a stop in Northwood today where local volunteer firefighters each took turns entering the simulated fires.
While fires burned in a controlled environment, one state coordinator says it’s this type of training that can make the difference in a real-life emergency.
“We’re not seeing a lot of fires now a days which is great but we still have to have our training brought to their station and it’s live fire training so this prop will come here, they come in and they’ll meet or face almost all the same things they’ll run across in a real house fire,” said Russ Grossman with the Iowa Fire Service Training Bureau.
For some rookie firefighters, it’s a chance to see what they might experience when they get the call.
“It’s very realistic, you have the smoke rolling, you have heat and you have flames. You probably can see a bit more in the trailer then you can in a real fire but it gives the opportunity for those that haven’t been in, to really get their hands in there and understand that it might be a little claustrophobic. You might have a little fear going, which is good, to realize what they’re getting in to,” said Halbach.
“Being on the fire department is a commitment and it’s a commitment to their communities. This shows that these people are willing to go one step further and commit to their communities by going out and training. Going out there and honing their skills so that if they did have a real call, they could take away what they’ve learned and apply it,” said Grossman.
Mark also mentions that like many rural fire departments, they’re made up of volunteers, so programs like this help in more ways than one to help prepare for them in case of emergencies.
Along with the hands-on training today, firefighters also took to a more familiar approach by hitting the classroom to learn some of the basic skills.
If you’d like to schedule a training session in your community, you can get in touch with the Iowa State Fire Marshal’s Office by clicking on the link below: