Updated: 04/05/2014 10:37 PM
Created: 04/05/2014 5:13 PM WDIO.com
By: Travis Dill
Firefighters from nearly a dozen Iron Range departments descended on a school in Cherry on Saturday. They were responding to a simulated fire on campus for training. The flames may have been fake, but the crews' response was real.
Within minutes of the 911 call the fire trucks started rolling up to the Cherry School.
“Our lead secretary called in and we told them that we had a boiler explosion and possible injuries in the building,” Lead Custodian Shelly Sauter said.
A few members of school staff helped plan the simulation. The building wasn't damaged and there were no flames, but smoke machines made the training as real as possible.
“The smoke that you guys saw in the room is thick and heavy, and that's how it's going to be. There is going to be little to no visibility, and we want to train like that so when we actually do get that page, hopefully we don't, but when we do we're ready for it, we know how to respond and we know how to act in that environment,” Cherry Firefighter Julian Ross said.
Ross said crews from across the Range would have to work together if a disaster like this one occurred. Firefighters from Buhl, Central Lakes, Chisholm, Clinton, Eveleth, Fayal, Hibbing, McDavitt, Mt. Iron, and Virginia took part in the training scenario.
Ross said this simulation helps build relationships between those mutual aid departments.
“Going into burning buildings, explosions you got to know that I may not have a Cherry firefighter with me, behind me. I may have someone from Fayal, Chisholm or Hibbing, and I need to be able to trust them going into the fire so this is great bonding experience as well as hands-on training for us,” Ross said.
Confusion can set in with dozens of trucks and over 50 firefighters responding so this training is essential according to Evaluator Dewey Johnson.
“A lot of these departments are volunteer so you have a constant changing of personnel. You have new people in new command roles that haven't done it before so the whole day is a big learning process,” Johnson said.
He said that training can save lives and residents should be proud of their departments.
“They're giving away a Saturday away from their families to try to help and make their communities better. They're also trying to be prepared to respond to something like this if and when it happens,” Johnson said.
Johnson and other emergency personnel were on scene to evaluate the departments on their response. After the simulation was over they received a debriefing on what they did right and where they need some improvement.
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