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Training firefighters for confined space

Lincolnton Fire Departmentfirefighter Tony Jenkins is hoisted from a 30-foot drain Thursday at the department practices a confined space extraction.



More than 20 city and county firefighters have been receiving specialized training in confined-space rescue (CSR) since Tuesday.

Lincolnton Fire Department, which is hosting part of the two-week training, is currently designated as the county’s CSR team, Chief Mike Lee said.

Since 1990, city fire crews have provided mutual aid assistance for confined space emergency situations across the county.

The specialized training is designed to ensure that all Lincolnton firefighters are CSR-certified.

The agency is also certified in various other special-ops teams including medium rescue and high-angle rescue, Lee noted.

Other larger fire departments throughout the county are also certified in a particular special-operations team, fire officials said.

Denver is trained in high-angle rescue, while South Fork is certified in land-search rescue. East Lincoln boasts a water-rescue team.

“Training in the fire service is likely our highest priority,” Lee said. “Training protects the responders as well as the victims.”

Lee also noted how it would not be “feasible” or fiscally responsible to train all agencies for every kind of emergency since training funding stems from both county and city budgets.

CSR training specifically focuses on scenarios in which individuals are stuck in manholes or sewer lines. Lee even had to do a “body recovery” once at a residence where a person was electrocuted after becoming trapped in the home’s crawl space, he said.

“The same precautions had to be followed,” he noted.

While rescue situations involving confined space rarely occur, fire officials said, employees that work near such locations are required by federal law to maintain a CSR team.

Lee characterizes the low frequency of such scenarios as still being “high risk.” Therefore, he believes that agencies’ training should be focused more on circumstances that seldom occur rather than everyday emergencies.

“It is important to train more often than we would for a routine medical call or car fire, which we respond to more often,” he said.

This month’s CSR training also includes one firefighter apiece from East Lincoln and Denver Fire Departments.

Image courtesy of Seth Mabry / Lincoln Times-News

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