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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Firefighters Face Smoke, Flames, And "Rescues"

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Friday, July 14, 2006

Clarksburg firefighters "rescue" a training mannequin nicknamed "Restless Bob" during a July 13 firefighting drill.
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Clarksburg - Town firefighters honed their life-saving skills during a July 13 drill that thrust about a dozen volunteers into three blazing or smoke-filled scenarios.

The drill was conducted at a 201 East Road vacant mobile home donated for drill use by property owner and developer David Moresi of North Adams.


Firefighters tackle a roof ventilation exercise.
Fire Chief Carlyle "Chip" Chesbro Jr. noted the training value of drills and the appreciation of Moresi's contribution.

"The best thing about situations when someone gives us a house is that we can do all the simulated training we want," Chesbro said.

The three scenarios that faced firefighters were an entry and rescue of a "fire victim" that included a hydraulic ventilation exercise, a roof ventilation maneuver, and a rapid intervention team drill.

Members of the town's fire department are trained and certified as RIT members and are able to provide services to area fire departments including Williamstown. RIT members are focused on the rescue of any firefighter who becomes injured or trapped inside a burning building. RIT members are often in place at the scene of structure fires.

The scenario "victim" was a life-sized training mannequin with the nickname "Restless Bob."

Chesbro and fire department Capt. Michael Sherman arrived at the property prior to firefighters. A smoke-making machine was used to introduce clouds of thick smoke into the mobile home and "Restless Bob" was situated in a bathroom bathtub, with one molded plastic hand visible through a small window.

David Moresi donated the property for the drill. Moresi plans to raze the existing building and construct a new house on the lot.


While the smoke machine couldn't generate heat conditions, the stage was set to mimic other fire conditions, Chesbro said.

"This won't simulate heat, and heat from fire will push you down," Chesbro said. "The guys will have to feel around to find the victim, which is what can happen in an actual fire situation."

A roof ventilation drill required firefighters to cut through the structure's roof to allow heat and smoke to escape while additional firefighters worked inside the building. A small fire was started inside the building within a barrel to generate flames, some heat, and smoke for the roof ventilation drill.

RIT drilling required firefighters to force their way through an exterior wall and perform a "rescue" on a downed, injured firefighter whose oxygen supply was running low, according to a semi-scripted scenario.

As each exercise was completed, firefighters gathered to review and critique the procedures used. An in-depth review was slated to occur at the firehouse after the entire event was concluded.


Fire Chief Carlyle "Chip" Chesbro Jr. readies an oxygen tank for a drill exercise. Firefighter Christopher Plankey is in the background.
Firefighters faced unidentified challenges during the drill, for example, the structure roof was a "false roof," with another roof underneath. Simulated rescues involved power tools, hand tools, and human strength.

Drills offer opportunities to acquire new skills and improve on existing skills, Chesbro said. Drills also offer new firefighters a chance to experience fire conditions in a controlled setting.

"I'm pretty impressed," he said as the drill progressed. "The guys are doing great."

Firefighter Rob Goodell rested between drill exercises. Firefighters trained while wearing full protective gear and carrying filled portable oxygen supply tanks.


Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
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