LaFayette Sun News

LaFayette Fire Department trains with specialized equipment

By John Brice
Correspondent

LaFayette Fire Department Shift Captain and Training Officer Gabe Rumfelt sat down with the LaFayette Sun for an interview this past week after a specialized joint training that also included personnel from Ridge Grove, Union Hill and Five Points volunteer companies to discuss their use of a mobile training tower that is on loan to them from the Alabama Fire College.
Describing the equipment, Rumfelt stated “It is a portable four story, or five if you include the top level, metal building. High strength, that they can take to different departments and deliver it onsite. Set it up where you can do a variety of training. You can do sprinkler training, standpipe and pumping operations, you can do fire attack, all the way down to basic SCBA drills or you can even do some technical rescue training. Confined spaces up at the top of the tower and also rappelling and rope rescue.”
He went on to continue “As an example tonight, we were working with the volunteers on raising and lowering ground ladders for rescue or means of egress into a building. We deployed some charged hose lines and worked on fire tech and also just talked about basic SCBA operations and movement throughout a building doing search and rescue.”
Further explaining the purpose of the training, Rumfelt noted “We wanted to simulate as closely as possible, despite what people see on TV, there is basically no visibility in a house fire typically. Everything is done by tactile feel, what we call left hand search, right hand search on a wall. You just put your hand on a wall and go and you navigate based on the feeling of your hands. We wanted to simulate that as closely as possible but in a safe environment with supervision and instructors.”
Expanding on the value of this specialized training equipment, Rumfelt remarked “It is a huge difference, they have a lot of mobile props that we are very fortunate to have. They have this mobile training tower, they have a confined spaces simulator. They have three what are called mobile burn units that they can set up to simulate for recruits quickly to use for recruit school or continuing training that actually has a live fire inside that is powered by propane we can control. That keeps it a safe environment that also teaches people what the fire environment is like inside a house.”
He went on to continue “Those are things that we have to acquire a structure and there is a lot of paperwork involved with that and there is a lot of unknowns with that unit, the mobile fire unit. It is known, it is safe, you get good instruction on how to operate it. The same thing goes for driver’s training. If you have a young recruit that needs to learn how to drive a large apparatus, you don’t want to put them out on the road with an eighty-thousand piece of equipment. Much less, catch an emergency call. That just puts a lot of pressure on somebody without experience. With the mobile driving simulator that the fire college offers, that allows us a safe environment for them to get a feel for the road. Invaluable training that they provide us for free, deliver it onsite to us. Without them, we would have a lot of challenges to overcome for training.”
Providing additional context on the value of this training, Rumfelt commented “It’s irreplaceable. When we teach our instructor class that teaches other instructors how to instruct recruits they learn about how people remember things. Do they remember it from hearing it, seeing it or doing it. When you combine the three, that really just connects everything in the learning environment. It sticks for students, rather than watching a video or explain it, to actually put them in a simulated environment like that. You can’t replicate that training, it makes it a complete package.”
Concluding his thoughts on the overall experience, Rumfelt stated “It’s really good to work with the volunteers. We all rely on each other, it is a huge county with somewhat limited resources. It’s a really rural area, we rely on each other and we have a good working relationship, everybody does. We want to continue to foster that relationship with doing good trainings like this. Getting together, learning each other’s ins and outs. Also, the fire college is just a great resource to us, we can’t thank them enough.”

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