The first weekend in May was a busy time for many in the area but was also a training opportunity for area emergency responders as three entities took part in an interior structural fire training course courtesy of the North Dakota Firefighter’s Association.
By Melissa Anderson
Members of the Langdon Area Volunteer Fire Department: Nic Fetsch, Tyler Feist, Corban Gage, Lorraine Gage, Marcus Lewis, Lawrence Henry, Adam Lafrenz, Austin Lafrenz, Kraig Gellner, Matt Hedger, Jeff Mostad, Bill S. Mack, Marty Tetrault, Dale Girodat; Nekoma Volunteer Fire Department member Kyle Moen; and Langdon Ambulance members Lindsey Gellner and RoxAnne Hoffarth, took part for a total of 17 participants.
“All of the members that attended, whether it was their first time or some who had been on the department for 20 years, thought it was great training,” Langdon Fire Chief Lawrence Henry said.
The training was free of charge through the North Dakota Firefighter’s Association and brought a total of six instructors from the association right to the streets of Langdon to teach the course. The instructors taught varying techniques for the different groups of emergency services. These instructors are all current members of fire departments across the state.
“It was great that they came to Langdon to teach the course and not have us travel to Bismarck to do it,” EMT RoxAnne Hoffarth said.
The training lasted a total of six hours and mostly taught the participants fire fighting methods including interior fire attack, how to ventilate using powered ventilation, and using the hose line to ventilate an interior fire. The class also showed the importance of rehabilitation breaks such as re-hydrating, rest, and having their blood pressure and pulse rate checked.
“The training provides the volunteers hands-on experience, which will help them not only stay up to date with methods but be able to better combat fires in the event of an actual call,” Henry said.
Some of the highlights from the course were the high temperatures that the participants went through as the training trailer got up to 1000 degrees. Henry noted that the ventilation techniques were impressive in action at showing how to clear the smoke out of a building using water. Another highlight was watching the actual fire build in intensity as well as seeing the smoke build and getting a visual of how thick it gets and how it carries the heat.
“It was pretty amazing to watch how they went through there with their hose during training and know that it wasn’t actually burning down,”Hoffarth said.
“It was very representative of a real structure fire. The only difference is it was natural materials, and with the amount of synthetics in today’s home, a real structure would burn much faster,” Henry noted. ”The 1000 degree temperature would have taken a fraction of time compared with the straw and wood we used during the training.”
The Langdon Fire Department holds a training session every month during their monthly meetings. The types of training vary but most often is equipment training such as how to use a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA), pump operations, nozzle use, radio communications, practice putting on their complete set of gear, or water shuttle.
“We are currently taking the Essentials of Fire Fighting, so there is a chapter to read and a quiz and test to take each month with a final written test and a practical test when we are finished with the text book,” Henry explained.
There are several training sessions each year put on across the state that the volunteer firefighters are able to attend. The department also sends several members to the State Fire School held in February in Minot. The classes are usually free of charge for those who belong to the ND Firefighter’s Association.
“They have a selection of about 45 classes they can participate in, anything from building construction, how to read smoke, confined space, and live burn trailers to classes working with the state fire marshal and arson investigators,” Henry said.
For volunteer firefighters such as those in Cavalier County, it is important for members to participate in training like this so they know what to do when someone’s life or property is in danger. Without the proper training, the person is a liability to the department.
“If they are not trained you risk injuring that person and any other firefighter they are working around,” Henry explained,.“It benefits all of our members as it gives them a chance to work together as a team, and they get used to how each individual reacts in a situation.”
The recent training exercise was beneficial for both the new and more experienced members as it showed the new members what to expect in a structure fire. It gave the experienced members a refresher on how to handle a structure fire; they may have learned a new way to attack the fire.
“Some of our newer members were a little hesitant to go through at first, but once they had the experience, they couldn’t get enough,” Henry said.
The training provided highlighted the sharing of knowledge amongst North Dakota fire departments as each department does things differently, and the instructors showed the volunteer firefighters of Langdon and Nekoma the different ways the fire can be extinguished.
“When you get some hands-on experience, it is always good. Our textbook can teach us only so much,” Henry stated.