Niagara Gazette

Local News

June 19, 2013

Falls firefighters learn the skills needed to save themselves in times of trouble


Niagara Gazette —

"We were able to cover all the costs of the program and we acquired over $12,000 worth of (training) props to use in the future," Fontanella said. 

The trainers included three firefighters from the Phoenix Fire Department, as well as firefighters from Los Angeles, Winnipeg and Toronto. A number of the instructors had been involved in incidents where fellow firefighters died in the line of duty.

Fontanella said the trainees could tell their trainers spoke from deeply personal experiences.

"You could see the tears as they told their stories," Fontanella said. "When they spoke, they had your attention."

The training focused on recognizing trouble and both avoiding it or getting out of it. The trainees, who were primarily line officers, were taught what the firefighters under their command will be looking for in a time of crisis, what the officers can expect time to happen at that time and how to communicate the actions that need to be taken.

"That's the most important part," Fontanella said. "Knowing the techniques for escape and communicating them to the firefighters who are in danger."

The trainers learned how to breach walls to escape from one room to another and how to get out of entanglements created by debris. Now, Fontanella says, the eight newly minted Falls fire trainers will began teaching these survival techniques to all the members of the department.

"All our firefighters will have this training by the end of the year, it's that important," Fontanella said. "We have to teach our guys that it's OK to say 'May Day' and give us information on their situation and then we can get help to them."

The training chief said he believes the survival training will save firefighter lives.

"We want (firefighters) to know everything (they) need to know to be safe. We want their reactions to be second nature," Fontanella said. "When you have flames shooting just over your head, that is not the time to try to figure out what to do next. You need to know that."



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