Fire Science Search and Rescue
A quote from Edward F. Croker, a senior firefighter that served twelve years in the New York City Fire Department, twenty-seven years as an active fireman, and spent an additional forty years in fire prevention, says, “I have no ambition in this world but one, and that is to be a fireman. The position may, in the eyes of some, appear to be a lowly one; but we who know the work which the fireman has to do believe that his is a noble calling. Our proudest moment is to save lives. Under the impulse of such thoughts, the nobility of the occupation thrills us and stimulates us to deeds of daring, even of supreme sacrifice” (fire).
I believe that most if not all the students in this class can connect with this quote in some form or fashion. Throughout the semester, this class has brought up new things to learn, and with that comes challenges and practicals to test our knowledge and understanding of the material.
One of the highlights of said practicals is search and rescue. Don’t get me wrong, unloading hose and repacking it on the truck was a riveting and exciting part of the year, but search and rescue has a bit more to talk about. We started the year off with learning to don and doff our turnout gear, which consists of a protective hood, boots, bunker pants, the turnout coat, gloves, our helmets, and the all important SCBA gear, which is our air packs and masks. We would do sixty-second drills, which is where we would have to don all of our turnout gear in a one-minute time period, and needless to say, on the first few tests we were all over the time. It took a few days but after we all were familiar with our turnout gear, each of our times decreased, and just when we seemed to have everything down to a science, we threw in the SCBA gear and started doing two-minute drills.
It was a long couple of weeks but eventually the prop house was brought in to play. There is only one word to describe it: hectic. Blinders in our mask, the smoke machine was on, and pieces of furniture were strewn about creating a claustrophobic’s nightmare. Our mission was to follow a hose line, sweep the rooms with our right hand, and most important of all, stay low at all times. There are times when I think I’m in a small crowded area and that the walls are collapsing around me, but nothing comes close to crawling through the dark and coming to a small metal barrel, just big enough to fit through and realizing that that is only one way to get forward. Much like the sixty-second drills, our first few attempts did not go as well as we had all hoped.
A lot of time has passed since then, and we all have grown and formed stronger bonds with each other. We all know that no one is left behind and that it is our duty to search, and rescue. Recently we were introduced to ladder rescue and harnesses which adds another layer of creativity and quick thinking in our practicals. We still have a lot more to learn, and there's a long road ahead waiting in semester two, and I can’t wait.
This first semester of Fire Science has opened our eyes to the nobility of the job and that it is definitely not an easy or comfortable task, especially on the knees, but being a part of such a group of individuals, risking their lives in the search and rescue of others is truly humbling and worth all the hours of training and practicals one hundred percent of the time.