FLINT TWP. — With lives at stake, every second counts and firefighters must be prepared to respond quickly to many different scenarios.
At the scene is not not the ideal place to sharpen those skills.
That’s why Flint Township firefighters were swarming over the rooftop of a vacant commercial building on Miller Road last week.
With an assist from Grand Blanc firefighters, who brought in their 100-foot ladder truck, the firefighters practiced ladder training at the vacant store.
“We do this to keep our skills up,” said assistant fire chief Mike Burkley. Training is held twice each month and covers all realworld scenarios, Burkley said.
Ladder training came in handy about two years ago when the department was called to rescue an injured man from the roof at Genesee Valley Center mall, he said. The man had been working on an air-conditioning unit when he fell and broke his arm. The Flint Fire Department brought in their ladder truck to help remove the injured man from the roof.
One of the exercises they practiced last week was rescuing a mannequin “victim” from the roof using the ladder truck.
Working from the back of the building, where the roof is about 25 feet high, one firefighter rode the ladder truck bucket to the rooftop where a crew already up there helped load the rescue litter into the ladder truck bucket for transfer to the ground.
Three Grand Blanc firefighters were on hand to help with operating the truck. They helped load the dummy into the bucket, transport it to the roof, then rescue it and bring it down again.
Chris Hyde, a Grand Blanc truck driver and operator, said it takes three to five minutes to set the truck up once it arrives at the scene of a fire.
All firefighters at the practice seession were wearing full gear including steel-toed boots.
A second group of firefighters practiced hoisting the 35-foot ladder off the truck to its full height, leaning it against the wall and advancing a fire hose up the ladder to the top.
Burkley said the group planned to hold three separate practices to accommodate different shifts. The first 2 1/2-hour practice was held Tuesday evening. The second practice was held Wednesday morning ad the final group was scheduled to practice one afternoon.
In upcoming training sessions , the department plans to tour hazardous waste sites and will conduct a walk-through at Genesee Valley Center, Burkley said.
He obtained permission to train at the MIller Road building from Pep Boys auto repair and supply, which owns it. The building has been vacant over a year and last housed a furniture store.