ShareThis Page
News

Kittanning's firefighters use vacant house for training purposes

| Thursday, Nov. 6, 2003

KITTANNING -- It wasn't a real fire, but it was the next thing to it.

For the firefighters from Kittanning hose companies 1, 4 and 6 who participated in a drill at a vacant three-story house on Union Avenue last night, it was an opportunity to gain some valuable training and experience.

Fire crews were able to do search and rescue work using smoke machines, rapid intervention teamwork and even simulated a firefighter trapped by a collapsed wall.

They cut holes in the roof, used a chainsaw to cut down a window to the floor for a bigger opening and made contact with a dummy firefighter, changed its air source and then pulled it out to safety.

Ford City Rescue provided the light tower for extra lighting for the exercise.

"We don't get the opportunity that often to drill together with the three companies," said Earl "Buzz" Kline, Kittanning Hose Co. 4 chief, of the drills. "It sharpens each guys skills and builds their confidence in the other guys."

The fire companies are asked by borough council to do these types of drills four times a year to comply with fire standards, Kline said.

Kline thanked the building's owner, Mike Shafer, for its use. The house had severe damage to the third floor from a fire that occurred in August.

Shafer, who owns an air conditioning and heating business across the street, said he plans to start having the house torn down today and eventually move his business onto the lot.

"The firemen asked me if they could use it for training purposes," Shafer said. "If they have new recruits coming in they need the training. There was so much damage done to it and it's an old property. I'm glad they can get some training use out of it.

"If you ever have a fire you would only hope that these firemen have this training."

Scott Kline, Kittanning Hose Co. 6 chief, heads up his fire company's Rapid Intervention Team, known as an RIT.

Kittanning 6's RIT is the primary one for Armstrong County. The unit serves 11 municipalities in the county and has been in service for five years.

Scott Kline said it took nearly $52,000 worth of equipment in addition to the equipment they already had to get the RIT established.

National fire standards require an RIT be on location for any structure fire just to cover the safety of the firefighters at the scene, Scott Kline said.

The RIT hasn't been used for a downed firefighter but was put into service when a firefighter in Burrell Township was trapped inside his burning home, Scott Kline said.

Scott Kline said RIT rescue equipment consists of a number of items.

There are rescue air packs to take to a trapped firefighter to extend the air supply.

A power hawk system, a set of jaws that runs off a battery pack instead of off hydraulics, is used as a tool in confined spaces.

A stokes basket takes equipment into the fire and brings firefighters out.

A lighted rope, a system made up of red, green and white lights, lights the way in a fire. Red means you're going toward the fire and green is away from the fire.

A thermal imaging camera picks up body temperature and fire areas above firefighters.

"We use anything we need to make the aspects come out positive," Scott Kline said. "Firefighting is one of the 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States. You can never be too careful fighting fires.

"Our firemen are getting the experience that might save their lives some day."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me