MFD utilizes old middle school in training operation

Kids of members of the MFD assist in their training as victims stuck inside a burning structure. MFD Training Officer Paul Werner explains the kids’ roles prior to entering the old middle school. (Photos submitted)

On Oct. 19, the Monticello Fire Department held a training exercise at the old middle school in Monticello. The scenario involved two fires inside a multi-floor structure, nine victims stuck inside, and one firefighter unaccounted for.

     With the old Monticello Middle School sitting vacant, the Monticello Fire Department decided to make use of the multi-floor structure for training purposes.

     “A few firefighters have close contacts or work at the school and were able to allow us access to the building,” explained Monticello Firefighter and Training Officer Paul Warner.

     Warner and Assistant Training Office David Husmann devised a plan that would allow the firefighters to expand and test their knowledge.

     “We wanted to not only work on the basics, but also throw in some training on more detailed and technical items,” Warner said. “Training is something you cannot lack on as you don’t want to run out of that knowledge in the middle of a situation when lives depend on it.”

     It’s not only the victims, but the lives of the firefighters as well.

     Warner said his training and teaching regimen stems from the saying: “Don’t train until you get it right; train until you can’t get it wrong.”

     So on Monday, Oct. 19, the MFD took over the old middle school. The scenario involved a large building/structure on fire, with two separate fires. Fog machines were used to make the smoke as realistic as possible.

     “When the department showed up, we threw a screwball and told them that there were nine victims (inside),” Warner said.

     The victims were played by students and children of members of the MFD.

     At this point, the firefighters were tasked with not only locating and putting out the fires, but also locating the victims.

     “I wanted to stretch our capabilities of communication so we placed one pumper truck in the front and one in the back,” Warner said. “Communication can be difficult when you can’t see who you are trying to communicate with.”

     To add more fuel to the fire, so to speak, one of the firefighters was pulled to the side as an injured member of the department.

     “This turns the situation into a ‘mayday’ and a rapid intervention team (RIT),” Warner explained. “RIT is sent in to rescue the firefighter.”

     Overall, the training went very well for the department and command, with no pre-determined (advanced) knowledge of what was going to take place prior to arrival on scene. Afterwards, the department addressed any deficiencies and discussed other ways to have a positive conclusion.

     Both fires were located inside the building, and put out. All nine victims were rescued. The missing firefighter was also found within 40 minutes.

     “That may seem like a long time, but with 16 to 17 firefighters doing multiple tasks, I was very impressed,” praised Warner.

     The MFD will continue to utilize the old middle school for additional training purposes in the future, such as search and rope rescue operations. Warner said they might be able to invite surrounding fire departments from other communities to Monticello to train as well, not just fire, but ambulance and police.

     The MFD thanks the school district for use of the building.


Subscriber Login