Fired up: Officials get hands-on firefighter training

Town officials got off their governmental hot seats and literally jumped into a fire Saturday during a training exercise at the Fairfield fire training school designed to show them first-hand the challenges that face firefighters.

The educational program, FireOps 101, involved firefighters from Fairfield, Westport and Stratford.

Among the participants were Fairfield Board of Finance Vice Chairman candidate Robert Bellitto Jr., the Republican first selectman candidate; Representative Town Meeting Moderator Jeffrey Steele, and Stratford Town Council members Dave Fuller and John Dempsey.

The exercise involved participants in "a series of fireground evolutions simulating emergency scenes firefighters face on a daily basis," International Association of Fire Fighters Local 1426 President Bob Smith said in a statement. Participants used hydraulic tools, often called the "jaws of life," to extricate occupants at a motor vehicle accident; carried 35-foot ground ladders; climbed a 100-foot aerial ladder, and used a large circular saw to open a hole in a roof to vent heat and combustible gases.

The visitors also joined in a series of fire-attack scenarios. First, they used a flathead ax and Halligan pry bar to force open a secured front door. Next, they entered the multi-story tower at the training center that simulated a residential living room, found and rescued a "victim" in almost complete darkness. Finally, they took the hoseline into a two-story non-combustible structure where a fire of hay and pallets had been lit, stretching the hose down a hallway past the fire and up the stairs to complete a search of the floor above before returning and extinguishing the blaze.

For more information, contact Smith at the Fairfield Fire Fighters Association office at 203-366-7055.