Firefighters use site to train
By Jamie Ausk Crisafulli
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
If a silver lining can be found in the demise of Makoshika Estates, it is that the abandoned building has given local firefighters a unique training experience in a real world environment.
For several weeks beginning May 17, Glendive and West Glendive firefighters worked together on weekly fire trainings at Makoshika Estates. All training was conducted by Jerry Prete, Eastern Montana Regional Instructor for MSU Fire Services Training School.
Firefighters trained in full PPE (personal protective equipment) and on air, what Prete referred to as “training in context.”
“If we’re going to do training, we are going to train like we were at an actual fire,” Prete said.
Some trainings included smoke machines which gave firefighters limited to no visibility in the building.
The trainings offered the departments opportunities to use skills they’ve worked on and to adopt new methods.
“My job is to give them tools to put in their toolbox to use. I’m not here to say you’re doing it wrong. I’m here to give them ideas,” Prete said.
On week five, firefighters conducted a drill utilizing both skills that the departments already had and the new skills they were learning, according to Prete.
Response to the incident was staggered to simulate what would take place during a real incident. The week five drill was a fire on the second story in an apartment with at least one adult unaccounted for. Both departments deployed hose just as if it was a real fire. Incident command was established by the Glendive Fire Department and orders were given to deploy hose to the second floor to search for the person and find the fire.
As additional units responded from both Glendive and West Glendive, a unified command was set up (one IC from both departments working together on the same incident.) As the drill progressed, additional information was given that a toddler was missing on the second floor.
Crews located the adult patient (a 160- pound rescue mannequin) in the apartment that was on fire and brought him to the balcony to be taken down a ladder (the fastest way to get patients to the ground and to safety.) Simultaneously crews were searching the entire apartment complex to make sure it was clear of occupants and to locate the toddler. When crews found and rescued the toddler the drill was terminated. Overall the drill went very well and only took 14 minutes from time of dispatch to rescuing of the toddler.
“Both departments worked well together, even combining some crews, to get the job done,” Prete said.