The live burn trailer was my second time ever wearing an SCBA (self contained breathing apparatus). This in itself had me a little worried. My crew was awesome and helped make sure I was doing okay physically and mentally every step of the way. They assisted me with getting a proper mask fit, making sure I knew how to use the relief valve to defog my mask, and how to check my air supply using the gauge.
After I was on air and breathing comfortably for a while, I followed an experienced firefighter up the stairs, bringing a charged hose with us. We stayed low at the door and knee-walked in (some call it crawling, but it’s really more knee-walking). As we entered the trailer the feel of the heat on us was intense. It wasn’t scary at all, just different than I expected. There was a stove at one end of the trailer and a furnace at the other. The two of us took turns putting out the fire at each end, then made our way back to the door.
My biggest surprise was how pitch-black it became inside once the fire was out. I had never thought about how dark it could be, but without the fire giving us light I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face. It would be really easy to become disoriented, which is why frequent training is so important.
Never enter a burning structure by yourself. The common phrase “two in, two out” in the fire service means you ALWAYS go in with a partner and come back out with your partner. Knowing to follow the hose back out using the rhyme “smooth-bump-bump leads the way to the pump” is also very important so you can feel your way out in zero-visibility.
Train like your life depends on it. Because it does.
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