Waxahachie firefighters spent time Thursday training how to rescue someone trapped in a confined space such as a grain silo or a manhole.
Firefighters used the Navarro College Fire Academy confined space trailer to simulate a rescue situation.
“This week we dedicated to confined space training. What confined space entails is where we have a below-grade situation, maybe with workers trapped or passed out, or a situation that is immediately dangerous to life and health,” battalion chief John Rodgers said.
“We are going to enter the trailer from the top, which simulates a below grade situation,” he said of the training exercise. “We are going to simulate going in and getting a rescuer that has been compromised in some way, whether he passed out because of the atmosphere or some kind of medical condition where he could not get himself out.”
Rodgers said firefighters practiced the two-in-and-two-out rule, meaning when two firefighters go into a dangerous situation two others wait outside in a stand-by capacity in case of an emergency.
A confined space rescue requires firefighters to suit up in climbing harnesses and helmets.
One of the first steps taken before proceeding is to look over the site to see if there are any visible dangers. In this week’s exercise, a tripod was set up over the opening, with the firefighters lowered into the space by ropes attached to their harnesses.
Rodgers said firefighters are connected to a supply line that feeds them air from a cylinder. If a cylinder gets low the air supply can be switched over to another cylinder as the empty one is replaced. The supple line also can be hooked to an air compressor with the air fed continuously. During this type of rescue, if firefighters have the ability to switch over to a small air cylinder on their persons if they need to evacuate the area quickly.
Rodgers characterized a confined space rescue as a high-risk situation but said it has a low frequency of occurrence. Still, it’s important to train on these types of rescues to keep skills sharp for the time when they are needed, he said.
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