Over the past several months Wellsville firefighters completed phase 1 of the project to construct the departments mask confidence course. While WVFD has maintained and supported in-house training for many years, these energetic members recognized the course needed completion. A newly designed program that incorporated a number of new and innovative scenarios was designed and built. This new course is challenging and dynamic and accurately recreates the “real life” hazardous situations that a firefighter may be faced with while operating at a structure fire. Kevin Fleischman, Captain of the Dyke Street Engine Company, lead the media and others on a tour Saturday afternoon. Fleischman said "it's a firefighters Hell."
Firefighters enter the building in full protective turnout gear, an air tank and mask...and sometimes the face is covered to mimic heavy smoke conditions where visibility is low. The building has several "rooms," narrow hallways, stairs...and surprises. The first "room" a volunteer crawls into, Fleischman said simulates a ceiling collapse. The firefighters, by way of a fencing material is actually trapped and will remain trapped until the trainee issues a 'Mayday' call. From their, the trainee must climb through a small wall opening requires the removal of the self-contained breathing apparatus. Once on the other side of the wall, the mask is put back on and the maze takes you through a narrowing hallway - remember, the volunteer in crawling all the way. Fleischman said after crawling some more and taking off and putting the mask on, the firefighter then climbs a flight of stairs. Although the firefighter knows what will happen next - it's still alarming. As the trainee walks along, a switch is thrown and the floor collapses, sending the firefighter tumbling. Finally, the trainee climbs out a window and down a ladder.
Second Assistant Chief Barney Dillie said, "generally speaking," an air tank give you about 30 minutes. But he cautions, a lot of factors can alter that. Dillie said part of the course is to treatment firefighters "breathing management." Dillie told the media if the firefighters panics, more air is gobbled up...so the course help you monitor your breathing rate.
Fleischman said one youthful firefighter made it through the course in just four minutes. We were assured, it takes most much longer! Chief Dillie said the whole of the facility is to "train until you can't get it wrong."
The Facility is available to all area departments.
In full protective gear, a firefighter must crawl through the tunnel; below, Barney Dillie prepares to throw a lever to collapse the floor