FOND DU LAC, Wis (WFRV) – It’s a job they never know what they might be facing until they show up on scene. On Thursday, the Fond du Lac Fire Department gave Local 5’s Barrett Tryon a first-hand look at what it takes to be a firefighter.
Here’s how his day played out:
It’s just after 9 a.m. First things first, you gotta look the part. Firefighters help gear me up. While it took me quite a while to do, they have to do it in under a minute.
We then went outside for a fire briefing. Fire Chief Peter O’Leary went over the basics of what we would be doing, which included using the Jaws of Life, working to put out a fire in a smoke-filled room, putting out an actual fire outside, and then going 10 stories up on the fire ladder.
My first stop was a car crash. My job was simple — use the Jaws of Life to remove the door. However, while it might look fun to watch, the equipment is heavy. It weighs anywhere between 50 to 60 pounds, and this was not even the largest of the two pieces of equipment the department uses.
An early morning rain on Thursday also did not help. It amplified how slippery everything already was.
We then head inside, where I learned how to put out a simulated fire inside a room. Filled with smoke, it was impossible to see. Add carrying a hose filled with water, and you soon see how fast things can get scary for firefighters battling a blaze.
We went back outside to fight a “real” fire this time. I learned the basics of a fire extinguisher, which we’ve all seen, but rarely ever used before. With the extinguisher in hands, we safely put out the fire burning in a pit from six feet away.
The next stop had us leaving the ground for the sky. We learned the power of water from nearly 70 feet in the air. We even got a chance to control how much, or how little, and where that water sprayed from a very tall ladder truck.
The exercises are all a part of Fire Prevention Week, which lasts until Saturday.
Firefighters say this week is a great time to remember to make sure you and your family are prepared for a potential fire. That’s as simple as making sure you have fresh batteries in your smoke detector and a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Speaking of kitchens, firefighters say don’t ever think of throwing water on that stove fire. Often times it can make it that much worse, or even leave you burned.
“We don’t go to bed thinking our house is going to start on fire,” said Garth Schumacher, Division Chief of Fire Prevention for the department. “If we did, we would probably prepare for that.”
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a good reminder to make sure your family is ready.
“The best thing to do is to plan for it,” said Calie Tasch. She’s the Community Risk Reduction Specialist for the department and works in outreach to help teach fire prevention. “Have a plan for if you have a fire. You know your fire escape plan, a meeting place, and make sure your kids know, too.”
Another issue many fire departments deal with across the country is a growing problem: people trying to save their pets.
“More people die or get injured trying to do that,” said Schumacher. “If they would have just stayed outside the home and waited for the fire department.”
The department hopes Thursday’s lesson helps paint a picture of how real fire danger can be.
“Every 30 seconds that fire is doubling. So if you go out and go back in, that fire is twice as big as it was before you left it,” Schumacher added.
With the time change coming up on Nov. 7, the fire department reminds you it’s also the perfect time to change the batteries in your smoke detector.
If you’re interested in a career as a firefighter, the department is also actively hiring.