Local firefighters get safety training

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 29, 2006

They are the ones who put their lives on the line to care for others; this week, they’re spending a little time thinking of themselves.

Ironton firefighters spent a day hitting the books as part of the national Stand Down for Safety program.

The day-long training is meant to be a refresher course in firefighter safety, with emphasis this year on vehicle and transport safety.

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“The key points we’re discussing are the use of seat belts, speed of response vehicles, stopping at intersections,” Ironton Fire Chief Tom Runyon said. “We’re also going over paperwork, injury reports, near-miss reports. There is also a little (discussion) on scene safety.”

Runyon said last year, 106 firefighters across the nation died in the line of duty. Of those 106 deaths, 26 were the result of vehicle accidents. Last year, 21 civilians died in emergency vehicle related accidents; another 642 were injured.

All firefighters have this training when they first are hired with the department. But from time to time, everyone needs a reminder.

“We get so tied up in our daily operations that every once in while it is good to say ‘we’re not going to wash windows or do this or that but look at what we can do to make things safer,’” firefighter Louis Sheridan said.

Capt. Mike Hasenauer said this is also a good time to promote emergency services safety to the community. People sometimes forget that emergency services personnel have a job to do and that job can be impeded by people milling around or driving around fires and accident scenes.

“When people come upon a fire or emergency the best thing to do if they possible can is turn a block before and go another way. We’ve had people try to drive through tree lawns before to get around fire trucks,” Hasenauer said. “We had a guy one time that had a car low on the ground and tried to drive over a fire hose and got hung up.”

Runyon said he hopes Stand Down For Safety training can be an annual event for his firefighters. The department averages two or three minor accidents a year. The last time an Ironton firefighter died in a traffic accident was many years ago. Runyon would like to keep it that way.

“The most important things is, if we don’t arrive on the scene safely the entire purpose of the fire department is lost,” Runyon said. “We have to get there in order to make a difference.”