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Firefighters tackle ‘mock’ fire emergency

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Firefighters tackle ‘mock’ fire emergency

Manteca fire engineer Travis Gooch displays the "The Chicago Bag" search rope that has a ring mounted every 20 feet allowing other firemen to know just how far a man has gone into a smoke filled bu...

GLENN KAHL /The Bulletin/

POSTED July 23, 2009 2:10 a.m.

Manteca firefighters – both regulars and reserves – entered a smoke-filled storage facility Tuesday night in the first of a three-night training session.

The firemen were confronted with heat and darkness on the second floor of Manteca Mini-Storage in the 1600 block of North Main Street where they were responding to a mock call for help after residents attempted to put a fire out – one woman was missing.

The residents had attempted to attack the fire with hoses mounted in a standpipe of the building when the one woman became trapped.  Their assignment was to search the second floor and locate that missing woman.

The upper floor had a myriad of challenges with firemen working their way between the storage units pulling fire hoses up the stairway over their shoulders with only flash lights to find their way.  There were no windows and the ventilators had been boarded up.

In the case of a real fire it would be an easy place for a firefighter to become trapped, engineer Travis Gooch said.

Gooch explained the Chicago Bag that holds a rope with rings mounted every 20 feet.  He said a fire captain holds onto the bag as a fireman enters a smoke filled building searching for victims.  There is a ring knotted into the rope every 20 feet so the captain knows just how far his fireman has worked his way into the building.

“Most get in only about 150 feet,” he said, “and by then they run out of air.”

Empty fire hoses were dragged up to the second floor.  When a fire was located in the smoke-filled areas they called for the hoses to be charged with water.  A filled hose with the weight of the water is much more difficult to carry up a staircase.

Firefighter survival was another key point in the nighttime training exercises.  Firemen were urged to be careful of the stairway.

Gooch said that by the fire department partnering with businesses such as Manteca Mini-Storage, firefighters are able to experience realistic training in the very buildings that they have the potential of responding to in an actual emergency.

In the past firefighters have trained at Merrill Gardens, The Commons at Union Ranch and Dryer’s Ice Cream among others.  The current session continued Wednesday night as well as tonight.

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