Palatine Village Officials: Firefighters for a Day
Palatine and Rolling Meadows fire departments and the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District held a training exercise, allowing Palatine village staff and councilmen to suit up in firefighter gear and experience day-to-day fire-rescue operations.
The Palatine Fire Department, along with Rolling Meadows and the Palatine Rural Fire Protection District hosted a Fire Ops 101 training exercise Friday, March 8 that allowed Palatine village leaders to experience first hand what it takes to be a firefighter.
The exercise, held at the now vacant Camelot Care property at 1502 W. Northwest Highway, was designed to provide the most information possible to the village for when decisions need to be made regarding the fire department.
The buildings on the property were donated by the Palatine Park District for ongoing fire fighting training over the next month.
“This allows us all to have a more educated conversation when decisions need to made in regards to station location, response times, labor needs, equipment and other aspects of our fire-rescue operations,” said Scott Andersen, Palatine Fire Chief.
Palatine Village Manager Reid Ottesen, Deputy Village Manager Mike Jacobs and Councilmen Jim Clegg, Scott Lamerand, Brad Helms, Aaron Del Marr, Kollin Kozlowski participated in the exercise, along with village council candidate Tim Millar.
All suited up in fireman gear and participated in a number of training exercises that replicated day-to-day firefighting and rescue operations.
Stations they went through covered all aspects of firefighting.
Fire Behavior Ops
Firefighters and participants entered an enclosed room where a fire was set with wood and hay, and were able to observe how smoke acts at the start of a fire, and when the smoke became hot enough, it ignited. Firefighters leading the exercise discussed how oxygen coming into a location actually encourages the ignition of smoke, and how firefighters must first act to cool the air and smoke to suppress ignition.
Participants were suited up and came upon a small building where simulated smoke filled the structure so there was no visibility. First the person in the Jump Seat officer role was responsible for pulling the water hose, making sure it was charged and tested the nozzle. Another individual was responsible for doing a 360 degree survey of the outside of the building before entering to try and determine where the fire was burning, based on where the smoke was coming from. Then a group entered and had to literally get on their hands and knees to search, not only for the source of the fire, but for victims as well. In a real-life fire, thermal imaging cameras would be used to help locate possible survivors.
Ladders were used for demonstrating how firefighters put a ladder up to a burning building, and how they use tools once they are at areas such as the second floor. A Pike Pole was used to show how drywall can be pulled down, to check if the fire is burning in an attic. Participants also were shown how to break windows to ventilate a fire and to check for victims.
Forcible Entry Simulator Ops
Armed with the blunt side of an axe, participants were shown how to break a hole in a roof to ventilate a fire by hitting down and across-making ‘cross cuts’-to provide a maximum exit area for smoke. This action is tempered with the fact that introducing additional oxygen into a fire setting can actually cause smoke to ignite.
At the end of the exercise, the final leg of the training included a live fire set in a room containing modern furnishings such as plastics and furniture treated with polyeurothane, which burn at a much quicker rate (8-1) than Legacy Furnishings, used more than 50 years ago. This demonstrated how quickly firefighters must act nowadays to save a structure, but more importantly, to save victims.
Fire Rehab Team
Headed by Tom Smith, director of the Palatine Emergency Management Agency, members of the fire rehab team, which include nurses, medics and support staff who have received Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training, provide needed breaks for firefighters as they fight fires. They are provided a rehab area for cooling, and vital checks on blood pressure, CO2 levels and pulse. In addition, Therapy Dogs are utilized due to the calming effect they can have, in situations when fires are fatal to vitims or especially physically tolling on firefighters.
Overall, fire officials were pleased with the outcome of the exercise.
“It’s been a phenomenal success, we were able to share our experiences with village officials, and they were able to better understand aspects of the job, including the sheer weight of the gear we wear,” said Pat Gratzianna, deputy fire chief. “This is also helpful in demonstrating the overall challenges we face.”
Participants also found the training to be highly beneficial.
“This is an exceptional learning opportunity to understand truly what firefighters do on a daily basis,” said Councilman Clegg. “They risk their lives to save people and property and their responsibilities are recognized.”
“Going to a fire and seeing it, as opposed to actually participating in it has given us all an appreciation for the actual job and all that goes in to keeping the Palatine community safe,” said Ottesen.