Blackpool Fire Rescue practice goes back to basics

Captain Mike Poitras (left) puts firefighter Cole Simpson’s SCBA mask under a fit test. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Captain Mike Poitras (left) puts firefighter Cole Simpson’s SCBA mask under a fit test. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Gary Braaten, left, jots down the vital stats for Jordan Jansen. Blackpool Fire Rescue members were updating their vital cards during their weekly practice Nov. 10 and the fire hall in Blackpool. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Gary Braaten, left, jots down the vital stats for Jordan Jansen. Blackpool Fire Rescue members were updating their vital cards during their weekly practice Nov. 10 and the fire hall in Blackpool. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Firefighter Don Mckechnie’s SCBA masks undergoes a seal test. Captain Mike Poitras shoots small amounts of irritant smoke around the mask. If the smoke enters the mask, there is a leak in the mask’s seal. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Firefighter Don Mckechnie’s SCBA masks undergoes a seal test. Captain Mike Poitras shoots small amounts of irritant smoke around the mask. If the smoke enters the mask, there is a leak in the mask’s seal. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)
Captain Melanie Savage records vitals and medical information for Little Fort firefighter Ward Rhodes. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)Captain Melanie Savage records vitals and medical information for Little Fort firefighter Ward Rhodes. (Stephanie Hagenaars/Clearwater Times)

Blackpool Fire Rescue focused on the basics, testing the fit of safety equipment and updating medical information, at their weekly practice at the fire hall on Old North Thompson Highway Wednesday night.

Every firefighter on the squad put on their Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus, or SCBA, to perform a fit test, as well as emergency regulator bypass drills.

“They get their gear on and we get them to work themselves around and get themselves moving,” said Blackpool Fire Rescue chief Mike Savage. “We come up with the irritant smoke and we come around the mask and they gotta have a proper seal.”

If the seal is broken, he added, and a firefighter enters an Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) situation, they could be breathing in poisonous gas or smoke that could injure or kill them.

Firefigters first ensure the air pressure between the tank and electric gauges match, then they’ll test the pass alarm function, followed by the mask seal test. They’ll also test that the regulator and bypass valve are working properly.

During the fit test, crew members will also perform a regulator freeze-up or bypass malfunction drill. In this drill, the firefighter will take a breath, shut their tank off, walk five steps, turn on the tank, take another breath, turn the tank off and repeat the pattern until they have exited the hazardous environment.

Savage noted these and other emergency drills are important so the procedures become muscle memory if an emergency situation were to arise.

On the second floor of the hall, Blackpool Fire Rescue crew members were going through baseline vital checks, such as blood pressure, resting heart rate and respiratory range. The information from these checks, as well as allergies and what medications they’re taking, are put onto a card and kept on a ring in the fire truck. This system assists emergency health services in the case of injury or medical situation.

“There’s a base line value to work from and this is where you’re going to come down to, so you know if there’s something critical or not,” Savage explained. “If they’re injured, then they (EHS) know what they (firefighter) should be at resting, they know their meds, they know their allergies…so it helps for that too so there’s no drug interactions.”

The vital and medical information for each crew member is taken each year and right away for new recruits.

Blackpool Fire Rescue is always accepting new members. They currently have 19 firefighters on the roster, but Savage said 27 would be ideal, especially considering many volunteer firefighters have daytime or evening jobs. For more information email blackpool.firerescue@outlook.com or visit their Facebook page.



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