‘Fire Ops 101’ event shows dangers, complexities of firefighting

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LAWRENCE, Ind. (Sept. 22, 2015)-- Firefighters Union Local 416 held its first-ever "Fire Ops 101” event Tuesday morning, giving elected officials a rare look at a day in the life of a firefighter.

“We think it’s really beneficial,” said Scott Johnson, Decatur Township District President of Local 416.

Johnson said the planning started in the winter with a simple goal – show those who control the funds the complexities of the job.

“It may change their perspective on issues in the future that relate to the fire service,” he said, “To give them a better understanding of our needs as far as manpower, safe equipement.”

Organizers split participants into groups, giving them five scenarios.

One included an EMS run, where participants worked on a coding patient to simulate an emergency transport. In another, participants suited up and found a victim in a smoky room.

Firefighters demonstrated extrications on old cars and allowed participants to break glass and use powerful hydraulic rescue tools to cut away pieces of the vehicle.

Participants walked up and down fully-extended ladders on top of a firefighting apparatus, and fought a burning fire in a room, spraying water to put it out.

“We now know how important the equipment is, we now know how important the training is. We’ve experienced it, so this was very eye-opening,” said Jeff Miller, Republican Councillor.

Eye-opening right on the heels of budget discussions, Miller said, with the budget likely finally completed by the end of October.

“We discussed the IMPD budget and IFD budget just last week, so perfect timing,” he said.

“We need to equip our firemen as best we can and probably to the max, because we all have a vested interest in it if we need them,” said Democratic Councillor Pam Hickman.

State Representative Karlee Macer said the experience gave her a new look at the difficulties firefighters face, a perspective she’ll carry to the Indiana Statehouse.

“A great perspective for anyone who’s making decisions about public safety,” Macer said, “I think it’s incredibly important that we make sure they have the equipment that they need, that they have everything that they need that’s lifesaving for them and the people that live in our community.”

Roughly 50 firefighters helped lead the exercise, working one-to-one with participants for safety’s sake. Organizers said they hope to hold an event like this every other year.

“Our main goal was for when those hard decisions come before a decision maker or a board member that they will remember what they experienced today and remember what we need to be efficient,” said Johnson.

IAFF Local 416 represents firefighters serving IFD, Lawrence, Speedway, Beech Grove, Wayne, Decatur, and Pike Township.

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